Law and Order, Jonathan Rado’s debut solo LP, came to fruition during a short recess from his other project, the divisive Foxygen. The guitarist’s cooked up his fair share of distinctive sounds here, only he’s left the kitchen much too early, leaving a coarse selection of songs that rattle around like brittle skeletons hoping to be fleshed out. Not even White Fence’s Tim Presley, who lends an instrumental hand throughout, could bring this to a full course.
The main gripe is that it’s obvious Rado’s just not sure what he wants to do alone. The inexplicable ’80s synth-pop of album closer “Pot of Gold” sticks out like a bloody, nailless thumb, sharing no relation to anything before it. “Would You Always Be At Home?” romanticizes his traditional guitar stylings, echoing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros with vocals clawed right out of Alex Ebert’s throat. The singalong chorus about, you guessed it, home and the various horn blasts only help that argument.
Though, despite its several missteps, the album’s charismatic moments do fit snug amongst Rado’s other works. The title track is a dynamic instrumental with a fuzzed-out guitar line that would’ve made a great Law and Order theme song if the TV show had aired in the ’70s. The slimy “I Wood” goes toe to toe with any Ty Segall or Black Lips anthem, while “I Wanna Feel it Now!!!” is a scattershot of noise begging for Michael Cera a la Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Basically, it’s an ambitious record that didn’t need to be ambitious. Too many quirky ideas plague it from finding an identity, which says more about Rado than his own music. And yet that’s the most intriguing facet of Law and Order; it’s a rebellious aural letter by Rado, who refuses to be pigeonholed the way Foxygen has (or will be). If he opts to attempt the sophomore effort — and why wouldn’t he? — some clairvoyance and a narrow scope might warrant a more comprehensive listen. For now? Enjoy the scrapbook.
Essential Tracks: “I Wanna Feel it Now!!!”, “I Wood”