Album Review – Patricia by Doc Corbin Dart (1990) (Alternative Tentacles)

DartPatriciaTWIf punk folklore is to be believed, by the age of four, Doc Corbin Dart had become the poster child for anarchy as he regularly battered down the shackles of the various cribs and creches that tried to stifle his individuality and sense of personal freedom, in a quest to promote toddler rights.

Ok, perhaps the above is exercising slight poetic license. However this man is pure hyperbole having been born to privilege (a very rich family) and by his late twenties experiencing the sorts of ‘multiples’ (arrests, mental breakdowns, drug addictions, failed relationships) that those with excessive advantage often seem to struggle with.

Much of this angst was spewed as rants against societal norms that he screamed out with the sort of prodigious elevated squawk and pitch that ensured he gained both notoriety, a fan base and instant exclusivity, among a thriving anti-authoritarian punk scene in Minnesota, with his band The Crucifucks.

DocCorbinMany of his mental issues came via matters of the heart and thankfully, Punk was not quite the vehicle to express these feelings. As such Patricia, his debut solo album, slips into a ominous mixture of introspective darkness and desperation, juxtaposed to an absolute apposite aesthetic that circles around, but never settles on, the sort of bouncy college rock jangle-pop that was so prevalent in the late 80’s.

It should not really have worked and I am not really certain that the artist cared whether it did or not, but his desperation to pour out his feelings is somehow accentuated by such an antithesis.

This delicious disunity is best seen in tracks such as Out of My Window (see below), Fear of Abandonment and Patricia (the Counsellor who ‘left him’ as he fell in love with her) which all explore different levels and feeling of abandonment with the poignancy of Dart’s desperate distorted falsetto vocals slicing large chunks of admiration away from the some quite beautiful and traditional R.E.M / Miracle Legion jangled riffs.Ultimately it sounds/feels a like Slint doing R.E.M during a bi-polar mania attack, in the most brilliant sense of the allusion.

Of course there are slight reference points to his anti-establishment bias in the album, as without these there would just no be the Dart patina. This is most prominent in the definitive lyrics of Little Town, Little People (see below) in which he recalls his bizarre days of canvassing to be become major of his town and the extreme hypocrisies and trivialities that he found concerning the minds of  suburbia.  For instance the hypocrisies of the attitude towards black people are uncovered as a mere Bob Geldof facade as:

They think they will liberate Africa as blacks rot in our county jails


You watch the rally on TV, your voice is really heard You think saved South Africa, your life is so absurd

This accompanied by the trivialities of people worrying about cigarette smoke as their huge cars bellow plumes of a similar substance into the atmosphere and the silly concerns and observations of sheltered middle class lives such as:

You still compare El Salvadore to Vietnam If you’re that hard up for slogans, better ask your mom

There are plenty of sly snipes at the middle class through the general desperation of the album that show the genuine wit of the man and make the album a must listen even on a purely lyrical basis.

This album will not be for some. In fact, this album will not be for many, as Dart’s voice will ensure that. However stick with it, or get past it (whatever your choice) and this album could become an unlikely classic.

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  1. This is one of the worst album reviews I’ve read in my life. Perhaps the biggest pet peeve is when reviewers don’t even check their basic facts. Minnesota punk scene? The photo you used in the articlr says “East Lansing”… come on man. I get the R.E.M comparison but Slint? What are you even on about? All Doc Dart / Crucifucks reviews almost always make the same boring points. It’s just good music…


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