Jesse Malin spent much of the last decade fronting the thrash punk band D Generation. The native New Yorker makes a 180-degree on his Artemis Records debut, reinventing himself in the mold of Neil Young and Steve Earle. The Fine Art of Self Destruction is a midtempo folk pop collection of lonely and sad vignettes made accessible through the mentor-like contributions of Ryan Adams (here as producer, mixer and guest guitarist). While the underlying strain on this 13-track release borders on the grim and numbingly redundant, songs such as the musically refreshing “Queen of the Underground” and “Downliner” are the exception to the rule. Perhaps that’s what happens when you complete recording in under a week. Though raw and naked at some turns and plaintively depressing at others, Malin’s attempt at Dylanesque balladry falls short of the lofty goal and what remains is a less than adequate approximation.
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