The mental image I’ve had of eternally dour troubadour Damien Rice’ as a leaky human sieve, barely held together and struggling to stay whole amid a near-constant barrage of debris’ is only reinforced with his sophomore disc “9.” Love is either unrequited, spurned or dreamt in Rice’s songs, acoustic shards of folk-pop that often seethe like fresh scrapes.
Having made a sizable splash with his equally morose debut, 2003’s “O,” Rice has a high-profile romance’ a brief dalliance with Renée Zellweger’ under his belt since last hitting the studio and the expected implosion of that coupling has provided plenty of raw material for Rice to sift through. “Rootless Tree,” a relatively sunny track on the surface, explodes into a soaring, FCC-antagonizing chorus that seeps bile.
At just over an hour, “9” isn’t interminable, but one man’s ceaseless pain can be another’s boredom. I understand that Rice is a sensitive lad, but Europe popped out one Nick Drake and isn’t that enough for everyone?
– Preston Jones