Beautiful Losers: Singles and Compilation Tracks 1994-1999
Simon Joyner’s aimless, tuneless answering-machine-quality recordings are, without question, an acquired taste. It’s appealing in much the same way other early ’90s troubadours like Lou Barlow sought to undermine the over-produced rock of the day with bare bones obscurity. There’s a heavy dusty and crackling 78 record blues vibe riding on many of these tracks. It’s almost a non-religious gospel Joyner transmits through his steady finger-picking and distant warble. The problems on Beautiful Losers begin with the dated and obnoxious coffeehouse power strumming on songs like “Milk” — it’s like every bad open mic night, and isn’t that really all of them? — and continue through the compilation’s ridiculous girth: 21 tracks stretching out over an hour. Joyner’s creativity engine runs out of steam long before the disc clears it’s midpoint. It’s not to say that these songs are particularly bad, save for a couple; it’s just that they’re more apt to flourish in the stand-alone form they were originally intended.