Stumble Into Tomorrow opens with the dark acoustic guitar rhythm of “A Building Charred,” an admirable effort to establish a sense of foreboding that is immediately shot down by the ridiculously hackneyed lyric, “Hatred burning up for you/Like a million burning eyes.” The cliché-train doesn’t stop for the entire album, and I’m inclined to be a bit embarrassed for Preston Cochran and his earnest yet ultimately pathetic stabs at insight. The whole thing seems ill conceived, thrown together as if just for a lark. There’s no way it could have taken that much effort, seeing as each arrangement treads the exact same ground as a million indie singer-songwriters have before and will ad infinitum.

But the very first thing about Stumble Into Tomorrow that struck me was not the lyrics, but Cochran’s voice. Every weak word is laboriously intoned in a low, hoarse, and tuneless drone. In fact, I don’t believe his vocals ever really go higher or lower, it’s simply varying degrees of nasal breathiness, and they almost never gel with the music. On loud, upbeat tracks like “Summer Flings” and “Back To You,” he sounds like an inept karaoke singer (think Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia!). When he’s trying to be a more defiant rocker in “Made Of Two” and “It’s Not Fair,” it’s forced into a repulsive scratchiness. “Junkyard” is also treated with a sloppy wavering effect that makes it even more painful to behold.

Between all the limp-wristed attempts at tenderness and infuriatingly unimaginative melodies, perhaps there is some potential for stardom, chiefly of the indie flavor-of-the-month variety. Inevitably, one of his songs will eventually make its way into a JCPenney commercial (I would suggest his cheeky line about “[making] love to a punk rock chick”) and that fickle fanbase will deny ever liking it. But, for his own sake, let’s hope Preston Cochran is just overlooked in the first place.

In A Word: Platitudinous

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