LD & the New Criticism

LD & the New Criticism


FILE UNDER: Countrypolitan Deathpop + Autididactic Toe-tappers + De Sadean New Wave Anthems


LD & THE NEW CRITICISM is the socially abject bastard stepchild of fuzzy-faced LD Beghtol, a displaced southerner who now calls Bushwick, Brooklyn home. LD was born at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in 1964, and was reared in nearby Clarksville, Tennessee, amidst ruined farmland and industrial sprawl. The youngest of seven children, Beghtol (whose initials stand for “Lawrence David,� not “Lethal Dose� as some have speculated), spent his youth reading everything from Baudelaire and Poe to Nancy Mitford, Wilde and De Sade, and immersing himself in art history and music theory. He later studied design in London, and holds a BFA from the University of Memphis. He has worked professionally as a bartender, art director, tailor, nightclub doorman, freelance journalist, exhibition designer, art curator and guerilla theatre producer, and has swept floors and taught visual arts to children and adults. He is currently employed by the VILLAGE VOICE as an deputy art director, and writes about books and the arts for that publication as well TIME OUT NEW YORK, THE ADVOCATE, CHICKFACTOR and others folks.

LD is also the singer/writer/musical director of New York-based orchestral pop collective Flare (with Charles Newman and a large, revolving cast of other musicians); one half of the willfully obscure bicoastal experimental duo, Moth Wranglers (with Chris Xefos); and approximately one third of The Three Terrors (with Stephin Merritt and Dudley Klute). In 1999, he joined Merritt’s The Magnetic Fields as guest vocalist and musician for their acclaimed musical tour de force, 69 LOVE SONGS—both on disc and at select live performances hither and yon. In addition to his beloved ukuleles, he plays guitar (badly), assorted vintage keyboards (with style, if not accuracy) and all sorts of unusual instruments such as Marxophones, Korean push-button banjos, handbells and Malaysian frog calls. A life-long insomniac, LD plays the ukulele, collects odd and obscure musical instruments, and reads compulsively.

Like Flannery O’Connor, he’s not so innocent as he looks.

* * * * *
AMORAL CERTITUDES, the latest offering from New York’s tuneful, eclectic LD & the New Criticism is a delightful morsel of pop yumminess -- a musical amuse-bouche sure to linger in your ear as it momentarily satisfies your hunger, yet still leaving you wanting more. Created as a musical bridge between TRAGIC REALISM, the band’s critically-acclaimed 2005 debut, and a new full-length collection the band are currently constructing, AMORAL CERTITUDES is a brief survey of crimes of the heart that has one elegantly-shod foot planted firmly in the fetid grave of romance, and the other in the giddy, carnivalesque Tunnel of Love. LD Beghtol’s playful lyrics sing of the unabashed humor and pathos of human amatory relations, even as the swirling musical accompaniment entices you inward and onward to your doom. Or redemption. Or whatever—it’s your trip, baby; you decide.

AMORAL CERTITUDES opens with “Love Theme from LD & TNC,� a brief lesson in literary criticism (in lullaby form) that soon gives way to “AKA Paradise� -- a rousing three-minute pop number replete with sonorous clarinets and what just might be a hint of hopefulness. Well, maybe. Next is “What You Will,� a neo-60s folk-rock nugget that features the wondrous vocals of Dana Kletter and Kendall Jane Meade, as well as oceans of chiming 12-string electric guitar. An enchanting cover of Lisa Germano’s “If I Think of Love� is followed by another Beghtolian song-epigram, the doowop confection “Light Verse.� Bringing it all home is “Sex Surrogate,� a mechanized sea chanty about the search for sexual validation in today’s consumer-driven society. Is that desperation in the air? Or just the sweet smell of excess?



Written By: LD Beghtol

It’s the song, not the singer
It’s the bell, not the ringer
It’s the text, not the guy who penned it Now this one is done
So I’ll end it


Written By: LD Beghtol

Raise a temple to silent industry Fortify your fortitude
Run the risk of your pet hypothesis
Perfect an exquisite solitude
But don’t tell me you’ve heard this all before
’Cause I’ve heard that ten too many times
Don’t sell me your old one-downmanship
Please believe

Resurrect a thousand axioms
Strike the heart of your perfect twin
Postulate an amoral certitude
Repeat ad infinitum
But don’t tell me pursuit’s its
own reward
Don’t tell me that distance is the key /
Yes, I know the syntax is torturous
Just try to believe that this can be

Buy now, pay forever and ever
Exercise your right to lose
Step up—stand tall, my love
All god’s children need dancing shoes
But don’t tell me the choice is multiple You’ve pursued that thread too far
Don’t tell me it’s death in real time Take my hand and follow me to Paradise
This fool’s paradise


Written By: LD Beghtol

Do what you like -- do anything
In a place like this who’d stand in your way
Speak your mind -- say anything
At a time like this who’d stop you, anyway
How do the good hearts beat?
Can you separate them from the bad?
How do the good hearts beat
Can you tell me now
How do the good hearts beat?
Can you separate them from the bad?

Go where you will -- be anything
On a night like this who’d stop you,
You can speak your mind -- say anything
At a time like this
Who am I to say what’s right or wrong
On a night like this who’s to say

You try so hard to break the code
To pick the lock, to learn the words
To speak the secret phrase you heard
That’ll make it all come clear...


Written By: LD Beghtol

The history of light verse
Is a bitter one, and terse
As life, unlike this song
Simply goes on for far too long
Sha la la la la...


Written By: LD Beghtol

Who knew people like you
Weren’t just a euphemism
Who’d’ve thought this could be taught
Like a catechism?

Can you help me to feel
What a real person feels
Maybe learn how to do
What a real person does
Will you make me believe
Even for the next hour
That I’m enough

And I am lovable, also desirable
’Cause it’s quantifiable
And money well spent
But I haven’t a cent

Make me versatile, reliable
Predictable, undeniable
Fully functional, reconcilable
Unbesmirchable, certifiable
Make me do-able, very pliable
Ineluctable, verifiable
Make me adaptable, operational
Incontrovertible, simply sensational

Make me dependable
Not unboyfriendable


AMORAL CERTITUDES (Darla/Acuarela, 2007), NOIS 062 cdep
1. "Love Theme from LD+TNC" (0:39)
2. "AKA Paradise" (2:53)
3. "What You Will" -- featuring Dana Kletter & Kendall Jane Meade (3:24)
4. "If I Think of Love" (4:17)
5. "Light Verse" (1:10)
6. "Sex Surrogate" -- E-stim version (4:09)

"Sex Surrogate" (4:43)

TRAGIC REALISM (Darla/Acuarela, 2005), cd
1. "Elegy for an Ex-" (1:49)
2. "Always the Last to Know" (3:19)
3. "Apathy!" (3:57)
4. "Trouble in Toyland" (1:23)
5. "When We Dance (At Joe Orton's Wedding)" (3:27)
6. "Burn, Burn, Burn in Hell" (1:49)
7. "Definitive V2" (4:00)
8. "Laughing at You" (2:03)
9. "I've Got One Foot in the Grave and the Other on the Dance Floor" (2:29)
10. "Death Lies Near at Hand" (2:25)
11. "DIY and Save Big" (0:59)
12. "(If You Love Me, Baby) Pull the Plug" (2:57)
13. "Too Old to Die Young" (4:28)
14. "In Blue" (2:56)
15. "Unpaid Endorsement" (4:56)
16. "That Attribution Rag!" (0:47)