“What do you think of music? Did it help?”
Durham-based Surrey transplant Dan Melchior has been making music for more than two decades now, which makes it all the more significant of a statement when I say I Bet You’ve Got Some Good Stories may be his crowning achievement. Though tightly (in the loosest sense of the word) anchored by a distinct, developed sound and Melchior’s deadpan spoken vocals, this fourth LP from the inimitable project—that also features Anthony Allman of El Jesus de Magico, Russell Walker of Charcoal Owls and the False Face Society, and Primitive Radio Gods member Johnny Brewton—plays like a retrospective love letter to lo-fi music as a tradition, evoking in turn everything from Beta Band and Sebadoh to Half Japanese and Strapping Fieldhands. A Shadow Ring comparison is almost impossible to avoid due to Melchior’s still-intact accent telling circular tales of tedium and the repetitive, simplistic instrumentals, but I bring it up as more of an endorsement than an analysis, because the Lloyd Pack’s brand of irreverent anti-rock is entirely its own, fresh and fecund and, above all, fun.
While “Sue Ryder” is a relatively conventional opener, complete with headbob-worthy acoustic strumming and idle musings on middle age, the ensuing tracks on the A side bring the weirdness hot ‘n ready: basement-cabaret singalongs on “Australia,” stereo-spanning percussion skitters beneath hypnotic harmonies on “Water Biography Babies,” plucky toy electronics on “Swaddling Jokes.” Each piece is its own stumbling, surreal experience, peddling bristles and beauty in equal measure, so it’s impossible to pick a favorite; maybe “I Have a Client Waiting” with its dirgelike xylophone plod or the atmospheric, Ivor Cutler–esque “I Won’t Hit Easter,” but why bother? There’s plenty else to think about, like what the fuck “swaddling jokes” are. In conclusion, the stories are indeed good! Listen in! You won’t be forgetting these songs anytime soon.