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The Chicago-based audio-performance artist Jim O’Rourke is heralded by indie-rock fans for his dozens of solo and collaborative ambient guitar albums. His production work with seminal cult favorites such as Faust, Tortoise, Smog, and Stereolab places him among the best studio engineers working today.
Eureka is O’Rourke’s first attempt at making a warm, inviting pop record, but he ends up sounding like the James Taylor of experimental noise. The album is an honest take on Pet Sounds–influenced studio compositions, but these songs feel a bit weary. Any uplifting intentions come across as brooding and melancholic. O’Rourke sings for the first time here, but his lyrics lack passion. One of his greatest strengths is turning a simple idea into a philosophical musing, but as Eureka indicates, he has difficulty compressing complex thoughts into a memorable, catchy tune.