Duchovny album offers honest entertainment

Photo courtesy of GMG Records

Last week David Duchovny released his second studio album “Every Third Thought” — yes, that David Duchovny. Apparently the “X-Files” actor decided in 2015 to try his hand at music, and fans could be forgiven for feeling concerned.

While there are a few remarkable individuals out there who possess sufficiently well-rounded talent to be successful in both acting and music, most actors and actresses who double as musicians are pretty bad at one of the two.
In general, it is fair to say that there is simply not a strong correlation between musical and dramatic talent.

To make matters worse, Duchovny is not the kind of actor who barely chose an acting career over a promising musical one. Whereas most actors who attempt to make music do so early in their careers, Duchovny released his first album in 2015 at the ripe age of 54.

Many musicians have trouble making good music at such a late stage in their lives, even after dedicating their entire youths to musical development. For Duchovny to attempt to develop a musical career from scratch at his age, then, is at best daring and at worst a hazard to his reputation.

Most listeners will probably expect Duchovny’s music to be unoriginal. How could a man who came of age in the ‘70s innovate musically in the twenty-first century? It is probably not fair to Duchovny to dismiss his music simply because of his age, but when listening to “Every Third Thought,” it is difficult not to be reminded that the album’s artist was born seven years before
Kurt Cobain.

Perhaps this knowledge of Duchovny’s age distorts the listening experience, but “Every Third Thought” simply does not feel fresh. The sound of the songs ranges from generic nineties alternative rock to mid-2000’s pop-rock, but there is little experimentation or innovation. Still, Duchovny seems to be a surprisingly talented musician. His songs are polished and well-structured, and his voice is pleasant.

The influences that gave birth to every track on the album are easily identifiable. Duchovny is clearly influenced by Coldplay on tracks like “Stranger in the Sacred Heart.” This song is fast, upbeat and lyrics-centric, like something straight off of “A Rush of Blood to the Head” or “Viva la Vida.”

Other tracks, such as “Mo’” and “Someone Else’s Girl,” draw more on older influences with a toned-down alternative sound reminiscent of Marcy Playground and the Gin Blossoms.

Duchovny even nails the modern hard-rock sound of bands like Awolnation, Young the Giant and Imagine Dragons on the track “When the Whistle Blows,” combining a dark tone with a moderate tempo and a powerful drum beat to create a song which drives forcefully and deliberately.

Duchovny is at his best, though, when he does not seem to be trying to develop any particular sound. “Spiral” is a slow track with subtle but piercing slide guitar stabs accompanying dark, regretful, almost tormented lyrics.

The song culminates in a brief crescendo of power and force with drums and distorted guitar taking over and speeding things up, before playing out and leaving the listener with only a sad, even tragic, lingering slide guitar chord. The song is dark and beautiful and complex, and it feels as though it might have been written by Hank Moody, the deeply troubled writer Duchovny played on the show “Californication.”

The album ends on a high note with the slow, sincere farewell track “Marble Sun,” which features a melody similar to that of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” combined with Coldplay-style lyrics. The track is relaxing and touching like little else in the modern music world.

This sincerity is the strength of Duchovny’s album. The actor borrows the styles of various modern artists, but where many seem to record music with a sense of irony, Duchovny has no problem playing honestly. When he sings about broken hearts and lost love, he does not bury his feelings beneath a layer of hipster detachment. This honesty connects with the listener in a way that few modern
musicians do.

“Every Third Thought” is not innovative or fresh, but it is undeniably a good album. David Duchovny does not seem to do anything which any other artist could not, and yet it would be a great shame if the music world were forced to do without him.