With a guest list for his album, Dumb Luck, that would be a dream label, Jimmy Tamborello (aka Dntel) shows that not only can he make his original works sound good, he can make everyone else sound good, too. Through a mesmerizing array of electronic treatments, Tamborello can turn any indie-pop song into a sparkling, acoustic-synthetic hybrid, and folks line up to be a part. On Dumb Luck, Tamborello features eight collaborations, and his signature complex future-pop takes over.
While most things that are thought-provoking aren’t often heartstring-pulling, Dumb Luck feels more like a study in indie-pop to come. It’s droning, swirling, and difficult, and makes the catchiness of the Postal Service seem like a nine-year-old’s birthday party. The album’s star-studded liner notes are more of a symposium than a barbeque.
One of the indie world’s most emotional star, Conor Oberst, appears on "Breakfast In Bed", a somber, digitized croon where Oberst sounds like he lives in a Flash animation. The textures and gap-filling noises that Tamborello uses have a unique, mind-jogging density. Like on all of the songs, the digital effects distort and enhance a basic song very much kaleidoscopically. "I’d Like To Know", featuring Lali Puna, sets echoed vocals on a skittish drumbeat and rippling electronics. Most noticeable is "Roll On", which features Jenny Lewis. Her countrified ballad gets a dramatic wash of synth and mechanical beat while coasting on the soft, pumping bass drum.
Dumb Luck, while not a party atmosphere despite its list of guests, is another challenging and beautiful Dntel twist on the indie world. It’s no ordinary view of comfortable indie-pop elements. It’s ultra-modern in that it puts familiarity in a new light while using technology in a way that most people don’t know exist, let alone attempt. Tamborello smoothly and impressively constructs a majority of the songs with electronics that don’t reflect the machines we use today, but more like a digital landscape of tomorrow.