by Michael Nesmith


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Michael Nesmith is a puzzling character. Over the years, he's been a folk singer, a television star and a teen idol with the Monkees, and an alt-country pioneer with his First National Band. Of course, most of that happened in the mid-'60s and early '70s. All these decades later, the erstwhile trailblazer seems as though he doesn't quite know where he's headed anymore. His 2005 solo effort Rays is a wild foray into spacey electronic music peppered with awkward guitars. Nesmith is a rebellious soul with more than a hint of an ornery streak, so whether he thinks this silliness is really good, or is just the manifestation of his desire to be category-defying, is anyone's guess. Regardless of his motivation, Rays lacks the straight-shooting charm and psychedelic whimsy that have made Nesmith's catalog so enjoyable. Rays, with its electronic touches and synthetic sounds, is rigid and lifeless. Bogged down in technology and synthetic instruments, it may be an attempt at sounding futuristic or cutting edge, but the short-sighted sound is as instantly outdated as '80s fashion. Much of the record was most likely obsolete before it even hit record store shelves. The scarcity of vocals on the album adds to its cold, uninviting feel. There is likely a sect of die-hard Nez fans who will declare that this is the greatest record ever. But to casual listeners, it offers little reward. Overall, Rays is burdened with the feeling that Nesmith is simply trying too hard. Even if there are some bright spots, they get lost among the shuffle. Unlike Nesmith's solo work and his albums with the First National Band -- much of which sounds just as fresh and contemporary today as it did in the early '70s, Rays will not hold up to history. Cinematic and atmospheric, the album has the feel of a blockbuster movie that's all CGI and no heart. Then again, Nesmith's a smart guy. Having pioneered alt-country a few decades ago, it could be that Nesmith has his sights set on the next untapped frontier. Maybe 20 years from now, listeners will look back at Rays and realize it was the wave of the future, a masterpiece ahead of its time. Only time will tell. For now, it'll just have to sit on the shelf and wait to be rediscovered.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/12/2006
Label: Pacific Arts Corp
UPC: 0794247100578
catalogNumber: 100057
Rank: 93146

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