Chris Garneau attempts to emulate Elliot Smith with a debut album of dreary piano pop.
Chris Garneau would like his dreary piano-pop to exist in the upper echelons of nouveau-folk with artists, like Elliot Smith, whose acoustic arrangements and wispy vocals can make you swoon. Unfortunately though, for Garneau, the closest he comes to emulating Elliot Smith is when he poorly covers “Between the Bars” -- a hidden track off Music for Tourists. Garneau’s arrangements are simplistic piano ballads (with some scant cello) that don’t inspire much beyond a yawn. His voice hovers around a quiet whisper, and this doesn’t do him any favors; he does not have the soothing, reassuring croon of other troubadours, like Nick Drake. It's more aptly described as tepid, and this only amplifies the drowsy nature of his arrangements. Lyrically, Garneau’s lines are atrocious. Sometimes he fails when making attempts at humor; sometimes he’s just incredibly inane: “Air conditioning is cold/ Summer’s hot, love is old/ I wish I was even smaller/ A little creepy crawler." I won’t even get into the song about Hamburger Helper, but let’s just say it doesn’t get much better.