Time Spent on Airplanes
I want to like Kris Racer. I really, really do. On this album I'm listening to of his, Time Spent on Airplanes, Racer (aka Kris Narunatvanich) sounds like a nice kid, and I dig the sweet, sensitive-guy melodies of some of his jangly emo-pop songs, the ones that sound like they were cribbed from that infamous Dashboard Confessional MTV campfire singalong. I even like the sound of his damn guitar, which manages to avoid that too-bright jangly sound that seems to afflict most acoustic guitar-playing folks these days. Heck, I even like parts of his songs, like "Me, Myself & I (and Sometimes You)," which briefly poses as a Chris Carraba song before veering off into Kind of Like Spitting territory. I like the lyrics to "UAL 7278," and I like the way the pre-chorus in "Before You Cut" builds, partly because it reminds me of how Teenage Fanclub get to a crescendo without it seeming too contrived. I like the way he sings the closing bit of "Before You Cut" in Spanish, even if I've got no clue what he's saying. I like the anger of the minute-long "More than 5 Out of 10," because it seems very poignant that Racer (er, Narunatvanich) was able to build an actual song out of what's basically one line, said one time. Looking at all these aspects of Time Spent on Airplanes as a whole, I should love this freakin' CD.
And yet, I don't. I've been wrestling with the reason why, and I think it comes down to this: it's the voice that gets to me. Some voices just grate on my ears, for reasons I can't entirely fathom myself, and apparently Narunatvanich has one of 'em. His voice is "thick"-sounding, like somebody with a bad cold trying to sing through it, and not to get all American Idol or anything, but he doesn't always seem to be able to reach the notes he wants -- and if you're in that position, the only ways to survive are either to sing different notes or make your cracking voice work for you, and Narunatvich doesn't do that here. I really, truly hate to say something like this, but while I like the songs on Time Spent on Airplanes, I think I'd like them a lot better if somebody else was singing. Sorry, man. (JH)
(Adobo Records -- http://www.adoborecords.com/; Kris Racer -- http://www.krisracer.com/)