The cover art of Luke Temple’s haughtily titled Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care is quite peculiar. Its rather odd, almost childlike drawings give the impression that no matter how weird or sloppy his art is, the listeners are still expected to have some interest in him. The sleeve art’s scribble-heavy aesthetic, though used to make obviously perceptible shapes, suggests a loose, carefree style of making music, one that doesn’t need intricate, complex attention to detail in order to be successful. The resulting product of Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care, unfortunately, indicates otherwise. Temple may not need to make music that’s extraordinarily complex, but he could have benefited here from not chilling out as much.
Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care is, while just now being released, is a product of older recordings. Initially recorded before the moderate success of Temple’s indie outfit Here We Go Magic, this record then had the working title of “The Country Record.” While working titles don’t always reflect the finished product, that nickname is quite confusing given the material on this album. The closest the record gets to anything country is the slightly Cajun-tinged “Ophelia,” which sounds of classic sixties folk music. The rest of the album more or less sticks to the typical indie singer-songwriter style, which puts into conflict the way the songs are ordered on the record. The first half features the most unique moments in the record’s sound, notably the barroom blues of “More than Muscle” and the jazz accented drums on “Weekend Warrior.” After “Ophelia,” the album stops these variations and focuses on Temple’s voice accompanied by the softly strummed acoustic guitar. Instead of showing Temple’s diversity as a songwriter, the album’s synchronization ends up being very scattershot.
What’s more, the album’s production quality sounds as if Temple didn’t do much when he resurrected this recording for its release. The appeal of the lo-fi sonic is still around, but here the album’s low production value hinders what appeal much of the music could have. The tinny background noise on “Ballad For Dick George,” for instance, instead of giving the song a more authentic, stripped-down feel, is intrusive and unnecessary. The album sounds as if it is somewhere in between the demo stage and the final product; while not quite rudimentary, the album doesn’t sound fleshed out, either. Taken apart, the elements reveal that Temple is still in his wheelhouse; he’s a confident singer and songwriter, and the material here sounds like he is headed toward something, even if that sound isn’t quite complete.
For all the album’s weaknesses, it manages to succeed in its conciseness. At nine songs clocking it at just under forty minutes, the record doesn’t waste any time dragging out any ideas. Though this is good, it’s just a shame that the ideas that exist within that short time frame aren’t as fully developed as Temple’s talent should allow. Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care doesn’t alienate, but it doesn’t quite manage to draw in people to Temple’s music and make them care about it. His voice is distinct, but this album isn’t.