Dirty Beaches, “Stateless”
If you caught Alex Zhang Hungtai perform around the time of Badlands (circa 2011), you likely caught him in Marlon Brando mode: looking impossibly cool in a T-shirt, leather jacket, and jeans. His music was of similar import invoking Springsteen-meets-Suicide with the antagonism-for-art’s sake that informed (yes, again) Suicide, and early Jesus and Mary Chain. He returned in 2013 with the double album Drifters/Love Is the Devil, the latter of which saw Hungtai moving away from traditional songs and jumping deeper into the world of haunted ambience, seeming adrift and incredibly lonely. Well, if you were hoping for Stateless to be followed up by more of a prolific discography, it ain’t happening. Instead this is the last blast from Dirty Beaches (Hungtai is retiring the name as of October 2014). That said, this is a fittingly elegiac album of stately notes and blissful figures that feels like a sad hero waking up pre-dawn to a deserted world. So let’s hope that when Hungtai returns, he’s ready to start fresh with guitar in hand.