We all know David Duchovny can play an FBI agent solving cases of extraterrestrial and paranormal activity, but did you know he can also rock? A few years ago, Duchovny picked up an acoustic guitar, took some singing and songwriting lessons, and decided that he was going to be a musician. I’m really into the idea of a person in their 50s starting a new hobby, especially one as daunting as music. By entering a world full of younger, more talented people, Duchovny basically set himself up for ridicule. What a daring move.
Another thing I’m really into: hobby rock. Why not jam out with your bros on the weekends? It’s not hurting anyone, and I could think of plenty of other activities a group of middle-agers could do that are much more disturbing than noodling on a six-string. Keeping all of this in mind, I don’t want to be too harsh on Duchovny. If anything, I’d like to encourage him to keep on rockin’. I would also like to apologize in advance for how many times I use the word “rockin’” in this review.
Duchovny’s second album, Every Third Thought, is well-produced, latte-sipping, hobby rock perfection. It’s the kind of music I would expect to be playing while I wait in line at Starbucks for my low-fat grande caramel macchiato – just kidding, I would never order that. But in a different reality, I would listen to this album all the way through, slowly sipping my macchiato at Seattle’s Starbucks Reserve, contemplating what the hell I am doing with my day.
The first time I attempted to listen to Every Third Thought, I got bored two songs in, so I decided to smoke some weed and revisit. It still wasn’t amazing, but I was able to get into it at least a little. The first song, “Half Life,” starts off with a real rockin’ lead guitar riff. I simply can’t deny how catchy it is. Then, in comes Duchovny’s smooth dad-voice: “Half my life by your side, through thick and thin, rain or shine.”
Duchovny’s lyrics are so cheesy and generic, it’s as if he is a machine programmed to spit out random clichés from the most common phrases used in songs throughout history. In “When the Whistle Blows,” he croons, “I can hear the bells ringing, the sky is falling down, I can hear the angels singing, just might turn me around.” I want to believe that Duchovny has a soul, but I think there’s also a good chance he is a robot from the future sent back in time to keep an eye on us all.
Or maybe he’s just being himself. Listening to him sing, I can’t help but imagine Duchovny as an actor playing a musician. Maybe this whole musician thing is just another role for him. He’s just getting into character, singing about things he thinks a musician would sing about. Most of the songs on Every Third Thought are about love and the passing of time – pretty relatable stuff. In the title track, “Every Third Thought,” these are the actual words Duchovny sings: “Why must the sky feel blue? Why must my thoughts turn into you? Now as the seasons change, why do I remain the same?” These lyrics are so clichéd, they’re essentially meaningless. Yet, I can’t help but feel emotionally moved while listening to them. The song’s got a real comforting chord progression, and there’s another rockin’ lead guitar line on it, although this time it’s more annoying than catchy.
One of the only things I know about David Duchovny’s personal life is that he sought treatment for sex addiction in 2008. So, naturally, I read deeply into all of his lyrics, looking for any connection I could find to this dark time in his life. Maybe I’d taken one too many puffs off ye olde vape pen at this point in the album, but in “Strangers in the Sacred Heart,” I swear he sings, “The strangers in their robes pay for people they don’t know,” which has to be about prostitution, right? The lyrics are so vague and obscure that it’s hard to really know.
As the record goes on, the tracks all begin to meld together into one extremely long song that repeats this general formula over and over again: guitar noodle, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, breakdown, chorus. After I’m done listening, it’s hard to get the music out of my head. The songs haunt me all day long with their pleasing predictability, and I find my brain replaying some of the worst lines: “If less is more, what are you waiting for? If more is less, well, god damn, I am blessed.”
One track which stands out as an outlier is “Someone Else’s Gal.” It has more of a ska vibe to it, with horn accompaniment and playful lyrics. Yes, it’s as painful as it sounds. Duchovny talk-sings the verse: “The birds singing up in the trees don’t just whisper sweet nothings to me, that’s all right, I’ll share, the greenest grass is always under your own ass.” Then in comes the chorus, “Someone else’s girl, la-di-da-da, someone else’s girl.” This is probably the worst song on the album, but who’s keeping score?
I know this record isn’t great, but it’s honestly better than what I expected from a 50-something actor-turned-musician who picked up a guitar seven years ago. I wonder what hobby I’ll pick up in my mid-50s – painting? Fishing? Croquet? Probably something with very low stakes. All in all, I’m proud of David.