Jack Carty is an angsty singer-songwriter from Sydneytown. His third album, The Predictable Crisis of Modern Life is full of indie-pessimism and ruminations on ageing. It's also the first he's made with producer Casual Psychotic. There are parts of it that work, and parts that don't.

The parts that don't work are mostly just the spoken-word introductions and intermissions, like opener 'What Does Your Heart Say?'. Segments like these detract from the strength of the songs, which would stand better if left on their own. Instead, Carty and Casual Psychotic have layered recordings of Carty's grandfather reading terrifyingly depressing adages about ageing and development over bad ambient music. It's the aural equivalent of watching SBS too late at night.

Likewise, the closing track 'Reasons To Be Afraid' also uses a similar technique as an introduction, only the approach is different this time. Multiple samples run over each other to create a swirling, disintegrating effect that ties in well with the begging of the song. It works just like its influence, Bright Eyes' 'At the Bottom of Everything', in emotionally prefacing and tying it into the proceeding song. Just like the Bright Eyes song though, it's an upbeat, tuneful song until it turns into an emotional plane-crash.

The two remaining songs are much better. 'Tunnel Vision' has a gentle melody with some great songwriting that references plenty of outdoor sights, and includes the lovely line 'Every cyclone has its centre, and every hurricane must end'. 'Whatever It Is' is a more bouncy, alt-country bopper, similar to Wilco's 'The Whole Love'. 'When I've got time for me, I want to give it straight to you' is the heart-melting line in this song, which could be a comforting tune if it weren't so distorted near the end.

The Predictable Crisis Of Modern Life is like a mixed bag of Penguin novels. Some choices will make you feel good--they'll look good poking out of your pocket, and they'll be great for reading on the train. Other choices will make you wish the writer had sat down and had a good hard think about how to present their message without clouting their audience over the head with it, along with their many feelings. As a 25 year-old man, Carty is singing here about something which he knows nothing about, and hopefully will never experience. An older man like Leonard Cohen could sing about these themes, but for Carty, it doesn't work.

Here's a live performance of highlight 'Tunnel Vision':


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