Friday, March 02, 2007
You will be forgiven for not knowing what to expect from this record, and listening to it might not give you any more of a sense of what its about than you previously had. Beginning with a song that you can’t quite pinpoint, and certainly will be unable to describe properly to anyone else, this Kansas duo immediately set the stage for the record. Welcoming both klezmer and flamenco elements, “Teach Me Your Legs” will remind you of Animal Collective one second, with the powerful harmonies swelling to the point of breaking, except instead of a tribal denouement, the track transforms into a marching band sound which will tickle the fancies of Elephant 6 fans.
The smorgasbord that opens the record is followed up by a much simpler track, one that again features the jovial harmonies of the band’s two central images. The rather simplistic lyrics of “Decoy Schmecoy”, which run “actually you have a nice body/actually you have a nice voice” recall the better pure-pop moments of the Gerbils, and the musical tone of the track follows suit.
Unfortunately this strong opening is not supported by what follows, as the third and fourth track veer far from the path set by the first two tracks and tamper with might as well be two buddies sitting bar-side singing aimlessly. Luckily the aim of the album is restored with “Get Kazoo People”, a quietly beautiful work of experimentation worthy of a Gang Gang Dance recording.
Unfortunately, in what seems to be this band’s goal, the next pair of songs are a completely different venture and return the album to the pits of slovenly sing-alongs. All is not lost however, as the jovial lyrics and start-stop instrumentation of “There’s Not Enough Tits on a Wolf” create a genuinely interesting, and most importantly for this record, listenable experiment in song-writing. If there is one thing this band does better than anyone, it’s defy any predefined song structures. If verse-chorus-verse is your fetish, this is a castration.
The album varies so greatly in music and lyrics that amongst all the bands I’ve already mentioned, a certain Waitsian element comes through here and there, a testament to the bands willingness to mix things up. I should clarify that the only way that Waits is recalled here is the sandpaper with which the music is produced as tracks often have a deep murky production often furthered by sinister shakers (particularly on the 9th track titled simply “.”).
As the album began, so it ends, as the final three tracks (including album highlight “Om, John Surrat” which features some fine whistling) are all very strong combinations of klezmer elements as well as the sugary sweet pop of bands like The Gerbils. The vocal harmonies remain, as does the general sense of camaraderie between the two band members.