Lived to Tell

Eleventh Dream Day is an unadorned foursome from Chicago whose tense muscularity has relaxed over the years to a point where it’s now a means, rather than an end in itself. The band’s roots are obvious — they derive almost exclusively from Neil Young’s work with Crazy Horse in the 1970s and Tom Verlaine’s early punk outfit, Television. They sport a wild instrumental attack, oblique lyrics, and a sturdy, unflinching belief in the healing effects of a silky, soaring guitar. They’ve progressed on each of their three full-length albums; heady textures, an expanded role for drummer Janet Beveridge Bean’s distinctive singing voice, and a welcome openness make Lived to Tell their best yet. The standout ”It’s All a Game” pits the cadenced, almost antique lilt in Bean’s voice against the conversational flatness of singer-guitarist-husband Rick Rizzo. ”Daedalus,” a sort of heavy-metal waltz, sounds a little hoary on first hearing — here’s yet another story about poor Icarus, the mythical boy who drowned when the wings his father made for him melted. But then with relief you note that the song is actually about people who would never fly too close to the sun — and the calliope-like whirl of the bridge turns out to be the group’s most daring musical moment on record. Eleventh Dream Day remains a guitar band first and foremost, however: Connoisseurs will note the hail of sound that starts each chorus of ”Dream of a Sleeping Sheep” and the blistering solo that follows the final, convulsive words of ”It’s Not My World.” The record has some junk songs (full of recycled riffs and wrong turns), and sometimes both Bean’s and Rizzo’s lyrics can get too writerly: I wonder what ”mazarine eyes” are, for example. But when everything does work, the album scorches. B

Lived to Tell
  • Music