In a lengthy feature for Grantland, the beloved but perpetually vexing star of TV shows like Californication, Red Shoe Diaries, the upcoming Aquarius, and the fever pitching return of The X-Files explains that his debut record was written in the downtime during his divorce with actress Téa Leoni. Backed up by a seven-piece band of Berklee-trained ringers from the group Weather, the music is a slow-burning alt rock shuffle in the style of the Gin Blossoms, A.M.-era Wilco, or mumble-era R.E.M.
It’s slightly shocking at first to hear the flat vocal stylings of Fox Mulder, but these songs are by no means offensively awful or a total reinvention like Eddie Murphy’s reggae project. In fact, the closest parallel might be Scarlett Johansson’s dreamily milquetoast collection of Tom Waits covers. Like William Shatner’s Has Been (arguably the greatest celebrity vanity album of all time) Duchovny’s lyrics are self-aware, but unsurprisingly pretentious.
Remember, this is the guy whose senior thesis at Princeton was titled The Schizophrenic Critique of Pure Reason in Beckett’s Early Novels, and who recently published the novel Holy Cow, an Orwellian fable about Elsie Bovary and her pig friend Shalom learning the truth about industrial meat production. When he’s not singing about break-ups (“One year’s golden and the next one blows”) Duchovny is taking aim at other sacred cows (“Bobby Dylan selling cars”) or obvious targets (“critics, bloggers, vultures / Taking their percentage off the carcass of the culture”).
Whether you’re a longtime Duchovny-head who remembers his fantastic cameos in Twin Peaks and The Larry Sanders Show, an obsessive like Bree Sharp or a casual newcomer who only got into The X-Files on Netflix, this album is a curio worth checking out. At the very least, it’s a step up from his last musical venture: Joining the Barenaked Ladies on stage to sing back-up vocals and shake a rhythm egg like your goofy uncle at a wedding band jam.