Josh Martin a.k.a. ‘Daughn Gibson’ dwells in the “familiar and obscene” as he himself iterates in ‘Carnation”s opening track ‘Bled to Death’. His seductive baritone snarls sparse lyrics that are both captivating and ominous.
Gibson of Pennsylvania is a man of an eclectic career, from sex shop worker to trucker, the latter of which introduced him to country music radio. From a young age, he became a heavy metal and hard rock fan, but his debut album ‘All Hell’ showcased his diverse influences, even his tendency to sample existing tracks, arousing a signature electronic sound.
Pedal steel guitars and violins evoke a longstanding love affair with country music, whilst the pulsating synth-pop beats give each song its hook, not to mention the use of unexpected instrumentation – on his second album ‘Me Moan’, the wonderful track ‘Mad Ocean’ has a thumping drum sound overlaid with bagpipes (a more obscure mix you will not find).
On this new LP though it’s ‘Shine of the Night’ that risks sounding like a big-band track, but with a glossy saxophone solo it becomes surprisingly entertaining; maybe a little inappropriate given that the song is about the death he witnessed whilst serving in Iraq. The lyrics, as a contrast, are far from infectious. Gibson is a fantasist who takes real stories and turns them into horror, whilst being vague enough to leave most of the storytelling to our imagination. This album is a deluge of despair and fading life, but he holds us there even if we want so much to escape.
As we hear “Keep me in your mouth forever / I don’t care I you can’t take it” on ‘For Every Bite’, you can almost picture the seedy swamp bar, where he wants you to “dance to the moon”. This is the glimpse of his real darkness, and yet it is so persuasive.
‘Daddy I Cut My Hair’ has the most filmic sound of the album, like the soundtrack to a runaway character fleeing his small Pennsylvanian town. The theme of finding escape begins with the second track ‘Heaven You Better Come In’, when whilst stuck in a motel room, Gibson finds solace in his lust. It’s a sexuality that he knows how to play on, as we hear on the following track a repetition of the same image. ‘Shatter You Through’ has an 80s punchy beat and sounds like Elvis’ voice has been mixed over a New Order track. Totally irresistible, we are indeed “woken up by motions”.
Peculiar and thrilling, this album strings together samples of a lurid mind. With the metallic twang of country guitar, thump of 80s electronic beats and a howling voice, we are helpless against Gibson’s intoxicating ‘Carnation’.
‘Carnation’ is out on the 8th June 2015, via Sub Pop
The full track-listing for ‘Carnation’ is as follows…