It is hard to fault the craft of Astronautalis mastermind Andy Bothwell on his third album Pomegranate. Continuing to mine the rich gray area between hip-hop and indie-rock that has provided artists as adventurous and Beck and Subtle with so much room to play, Bothwell has developed a similarly idiosyncratic sound. Mixing an array of live instruments with the grit of hip-hop drum loops and Bothwell’s own stoned delivery, Pomegranate is an unquestionably unique and musically accomplished record.
But the songs just aren’t there. “The Wondersmith and His Sons” is ushered along by an irresistible bass grove, and “The Trouble Hunters” builds to stirringly anthemic chorus, but for the most part Bothwell still seems more concerned with working out the intricacies of his sonic assault than actually forming it into anything with the ability to resonate. The result is an album that it is far easier to appreciate than to actually enjoy, a portrait of a clearly talented artist who has not yet learned how to temper his innovation with the necessary discipline.