By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
TOOMuch Is Not Enough
Carpe Diem Records
Most of the best art is personal. Great artists only listen to the voice from inside, their ears closed to what the mass market suggests. Broose Dickinson's TOOMuchTV--his project when he isn't pop poppins' frontman--operates along these lines. That's the only way to explain such an idiosyncratic album as TOOMuch Is Not Enough. It has absolutely nothing to do with what's going on in the local music scene right now. In that respect, it's a bold move on Dickinson's part to put out something so unique.
That is, of course, if you consider British pop--old and new--unique. Dickinson is clearly an Anglophile when it comes to his music influences. Listening to TOOMuch Is Not Enough, you are reminded of obscure British pop bands from the '80s (Railway Children, Sad Lovers, and Giants), some not so obscure British pop bands from the '80s (Love and Rockets, the Lightning Seeds), and even some Brian Wilson, all combined with Dickinson's knack for writing delicate melodies. The album has more hooks than a shower curtain.
TOOMuch Is Not Enough has an air of private exercise about it, like a home movie, or a diary full of poems whose author was unconcerned with their ever being read. It is subtle, dreamy, and almost surreal at times. "Curious About You (Would You Love Me II)" is clearly the standout. It suggests Dickinson is a big Edwyn Collins fan; if he added a bit of spriteliness to the beat, he could have a love song as big as an epic pop ballad and come close to beating the Brits at their own game. "The Subway All Day"--undoubtedly the London underground--uses the rhythm of the rails as a beat. It is strangely effective, with its repetitive lyric and the distant ambience of the tracks lulling you to sleep.
"Without Wherewithal" is fairy tale-ish with a bizarre, waltzy tempo and the line "I've asked spirits and kings/I've asked peasants and queens"--here in Dallas? Well, it's a little out of touch with reality, but deservedly so.
The album contains touches of two opposing characters. The first finds Dickinson a pop songwriter who concentrates on catchy melodies and crafty song structures. The other half is Dickinson the serious artist, trying to add a touch of highbrow to pop music by making slight artistic statements. For instance, the 18 seconds of silence entitled "Ode To John Cage" sounds like something put on to impress. The same applies to the few ambient snippets like "Breathy Keys" and "Airplanes" that appear between songs: Clearly Dickinson the pop craftsman wins.
TOOMuch Is Not Enough is full of wistful earnestness and goes through your stereo as lightly as the breeze.