In 1987, a gifted actor riding high on a string of well received films and a hit TV series set out on a path that would, so the plan went, push his career into the stratosphere. Assembling a crack team of musicians in an LA studio, the actor started work on a debut album intended to cement his burgeoning stardom and demonstrate to the world that he was more than a mere actor. He was an Artist - a renaissance man, unconstrained by expectation and free to turn his hand to any number of disciplines with one pure aim - the honest investigation of the human condition.
That actor was Bruce Willis, and the album, The Return of Bruno, was not quite the triumph he'd hoped for. It was, to be frank, balls; a mediocre selection of insipid pop/soul covers largely remembered as a joke.
Bruce wasn't the first or last actor to try to use his thespian achievements as a shortcut to musical success - but the results are frequently similar. Dogstar, for instance, achieved some notoriety thanks to having Keanu Reeves on bass, but at Glastonbury 1999 an unimpressed crowd demonstrated their views by pelting the band with rotten fruit. Then there's Jared Leto and the woeful 30 Seconds to Mars, or Juliette Lewis, high on Scientology and over-confidence yet seriously lacking in talent, taste or ability. These acts often make a splash early on thanks to celebrity cachet, but the music tends to be, at best, safe and unimaginative, at worst, Russell Crowe rhyming "moon" and "spoon" while singing with his eyes closed.
With that in mind, it's with a degree of trepidation that one approaches The Goldberg Sisters - musical pseudonym of Adam Goldberg, best known for roles in _Dazed and Confused, Friends, Saving Private Ryan_ and Entourage. However, it quickly becomes apparent that this, his second album, is more than just fame-hungry ego tripping - Goldberg is not Bruce Willis, and for that we can all be thankful.
Under previous stage name LANDy, Goldberg's 2009 album _Eros and Omissions_, recorded over a six year period and featuring heavy input from Stephen Drozd of the Flaming Lips, won praise for its 'moody atmospheric dream pop' and what Vanity Fair described as a 'lush, moody John Lennon vibe'. The Goldberg Sisters has been written, recorded and released over a much briefer period, and ploughs similar furrows - there's frequent flashes of late-era Beatles, but a closer comparison is mid Nineties Mercury Rev, with whom this shares a shambling, laid back, lysergic mood, and a cautious but persistent approach to experimentation.
The shorter production time of this album is perhaps reflected in the lack of variety. Of these ten songs, pretty much all of them are piano-or-guitar-led lamentations that veer conservatively in tone from vaguely melancholy to vaguely upbeat (more of the former than the latter). There's also far more filler than is justifiable in a record of this length - yet amid some over-long, unimaginative tracks there's serious song writing talent on display.
'Erik Erikson' brings to mind an acoustic Sonic Youth at their most accessible; first single 'Shush/Ooh La La', the brief and charmingly weird 'You're Beautiful When You Die' and closer 'The Heart Grows Fonder' merit inclusion on any compilation that set out to demonstrate that sometimes second-jobbing actors can surprise you with their musical talents.
6Adam Boult's Score