Based on the mysteriously intriguing cover, the complete lack of credits and the bizarre and murky sounds within, it is nearly impossible to discern that Dead Man's Bones is the work of Oscar-nominated actor Ryan Gosling -- but it is. The cover photo depicts a group shot of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Childrens' Choir in Halloween costumes, with Gosling and his best friend Zach Shields obscurely placed on either side.
The self-titled release is a loose concept album and theatre project based on supernatural themes. With the lo-fi production, the eerie childrens' choir and song titles like "Werewolf Heart" and "Flowers Grow Out of My Grave," Dead Man's Bones manages to consistently bind the entire strange project together. Gosling and Shield's muddled voices maintain a spooky atmosphere in the many slower numbers. However, brilliant upbeat flashes like "My Body's A Zombie For You" come out of nowhere and feature the childrens' choir sounding like the Arcade Fire singing doo-wop on Halloween night. The spotlight tends to focus on the aforementioned choir, with Gosling and Shields sitting back and directing the whole project. It shouldn't work -- but it does and is executed wonderfully.
This album should be sought out and heard simply because there is nothing out there today that sounds remotely like it.