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Lonesome Drifter (Animal Disguise)

Mammal ain't the happiest kid on the block. His last disc, 2006's Let Me Die, a collection of post-industrial "dance" grooves, pulsates with all the vibrancy of a euthanized hippopotamus.

Lonesome Drifter, its follow-up, offers an equally desolate soundscape. This time around, however, Mammal (born Gary Beauvais) trades minimal beat-work for lo-fi doom built from skeletal riffage and a smacked-out drum machine. So yeah, Mammal's latest, which opens with a 10-minute dirge titled "Repulsion," traffics in dour, primitive shit. Several music scribes have already declared it the soundtrack for modern urban decline (which makes total sense, since the guy calls Detroit home).

But Lonesome Drifter is far smarter than its wastoid-on-a-bummer facade. Beauvais obviously understands American folk mythology. What we have here is a four-part tale, starring a 21st-century antihero who's a cross between Hank William's Luke the Drifter and the longhair brooding silently in the back of the classroom. In a hollow baritone, this rootless outsider croaks about leaving family behind, "breathing in fumes," and the dreary repetition of everyday life.

This is some truly archetypal stuff. In another age, Mammal would've made this music with a banjo. Instead he plays electric axe like Buzz Osbourne.

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