Like Drawing Blood

Like Drawing Blood

Laden with unusual sounds that he recorded in random Melbourne bedrooms over a period of two years, every song on 2006’s Like Drawing Blood is a different genre wedded to consistency by the vows of distinctive, unstructured vocalizing by Gotye, aka Wally De Backer. Opener “The Only Way” is worldbeat art-pop. “Thanks For Your Time” is slinky R&B. “Puzzle With a Piece Missing” is one-drop reggae. By the brooding garage-rock “The Only Thing I Know,” Like Drawing Blood has coalesced into its own perfect sense, though its compulsive uniqueness is best explored via its three singles—all of which exhibit increasingly less and less accessibility on paper. First single “Learnalilgivinanlovin’” insisted on ’50s Motown as a thing of modern beauty, all tambourines and soulful refrains that sidestep any reliable hooks in favor of the era’s howling energy. “Hearts A Mess” takes nearly three minutes of its six-minute carnival jazz to reach its chorus whereby De Backer suddenly demonstrates that he can sing with the terseness of Sting. “Coming Back” blew its running time out to nearly seven minutes, playing like a spaghetti western soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s latter-day oeuvre. Radio lapped it all up. This unlikely success would prime De Backer for 2011’s Making Mirrors, which, for better or worse, would feature global hit “Somebody That I Used to Know”—a song so wildly popular it obscured the rest of the album and backed the Belgian-Australian’s talents into somewhat of a corner, proving to be his last release. Thankfully, it’s a corner said talents had already inhabited with unrestrained—and widely appreciable—gusto.

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