The Hang of Music: Annoying Words of Death

Ah, I’m back and essay free. Time for me to chill out, put my feet up and… write some more stuff.

Ah well, at least I’ve got a fun album ahead of me: I’ve heard some good stuff about Rilo Kiley, so this should be interesting at the very least.

And what a surprise, their first album is eponymously titled. Never heard that before!

I would like to point out that the grammar nazi in me is still not sure about their use of the phrase “dissed”. I don’t like it being used as a synonym for rejected. But I guess I should tell him to shut up, as it’s hardly important.

Anyway, I’m going to warn you here; this is a very indie album. And if you can’t stand indieness, and range anywhere on the scale, from “I don’t much like indie music, but that’s ok” and “I want to hunt down and impale* indiekids on my flaming pitchfork”, then maybe reading this review isn’t for you.

So, to save you time, here is the test. If you can read QC (as demonstrated below), and don’t find it funny, and moreover hate all of the characters, then you are one of those people whose bodies naturally rejects indieness. If you can’t even read it at all, for all the rage boiling out of your eyes, then you have an extreme case and need to see a doctor. In either case, what you have is like an allergy, and as such you won’t like this album. Probably.

Click on the image for a random comic, and test your indiehate.

Hipsters? HIPSTERS!

Made it past here without foaming at the mouth? Then maybe this review isn’t going to be entirely wasted on you.

One of the things I wasn’t ready for was how funny some of the songs are. Most of the songs are just so damn amusing. Pretty much every song had lyrics in that made me laugh, which is awesome. Funny lyrics are difficult to pull off. And if they’re not, then there are a ton of songs out there which have some serious catching up to do.

The actual comedy is mostly black comedy though. “Steve” is the pinnacle of this. Songs about your mum’s abusive boyfriend are either very funny, or very sad. Although apparently it was performed live, and the audience decided it was funny. I’m still a little unsure, but at least I’m not the only person who was cackling at the lyrics.***

Maybe I just feel bad for finding them funny. And maybe it’s both funny and tragic. For example, when listening to “Teenage Love Song”, I couldn’t help but think that it was going to end really badly. I was expecting a Tom Lehrer style ending, where the reveal involves a severed hand and the police showing up. Had it happened, I would probably have laughed my head off; as it was, the end was still pretty funny.

In the context of such odd lyrics, I’m really not sure how I’m supposed to react to lines like this:

“Everytime I come over to your house
You just shit on my face
And you know it, you know it
You know, you know it really freaks me out”


Wait, what?

On listening to this album, you would be hard pushed to place any of this as coming from anywhere other than North America. It has a comfortable, warm friendly sound. In that respect, I’m actually surprised they came from LA, and not somewhere in the midwest, or maybe even Canada.

True to that, there is also a bit of rockabilly/bluegrass in there. Particularly “Gravity”, which pretty much borders on yodelling in places. I presume that it’s Jenny Lewis’ natural accent coming through. Either that, or she’s pretty brilliant at putting it on. (Wait, she’s from Las Vegas? Then WTF is going on?)

Let's face it, it's not even "bordering on" yodelling. Also what.

On “Troubadours”, there’s some just plain terrible keyboard. It took a while for it to occur that maybe that’s meant to be the terrible wedding band. You know, those people who use all of the stupid synths on those damnable casio monstrosities. At any rate, I like that the song about a wedding is the one track that has terrible sounding keyboards on it. Well played.

I think.

And once it’s over, the song seques seamlessly into “The Annoying Noise of Death”. I feel it is important to point out that sometimes I hate writing these album reviews. Sometimes I think that this is a shitty medium for finding out about new music. Sometimes all I want when I listen to an album is to chill out and listen. Sometimes it’s because I can’t think of anything to say.

This time, however, I hate it because I’m pretty sure that, by writing this review, I’ve tacitly agreed to listen to in it’s entirety. ALL OF IT. Here are my responses, in a sort of real-time response review

8m – My god, I’m not even sure if this is speeding up, or slowing down, or what.

10m – I don’t even know if I can listen to another 12 minutes of this. I just checked twice, and I swear the clock hasn’t moved.

12m – Thank god, only 8 minutes to go!

14m – Here I am reminded of the heartening adage that “everything that has a beginning has an end”. I really hope so.

15m – I hate this so much.

18m – The skip button looks so tempting.

19m – This was actually worth it. But never again.

There you go. I’ve just saved you 22 minutes of your life.**** Because seriously, reading that back to myself, that looks like the journal of someone slowly going insane.

At any rate, despite goddamn mind screws like that, which are easily avoidable when listening casually, I enjoyed this album muchly. Not to sound like a broken record, but it’s really genuinely funny, which is always nice. And the bits of it that aren’t are just weird (seriously – I can’t make head nor tail of “The Frug” and “Papillon”). Which is also a lot of fun. So yeah; thumbs up.

That’s a terrible way to end a review; what am I going to do now, start posting pictures of kittens and sunshine?

Have Cthulhu instead!

* I mistyped this as “iMaple”. Since when did Apple buy out Canada. (BTW, both very indie.)

** Except Pintsize and Yellingbird, obviously. You can’t hate them!

*** Then again, I am the sort of person who laughs like a madman at The Smiths songs. And that’s terrible.

**** Unless you were intrigued by the last entry. Go on, listen to it all.


Posted on December 1, 2011, in Music, The Hang of Music and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Yay! You did a Rilo Kiley review! But it wasn’t on the list on your wall…

    • Also also! You should listen to their 3rd or 4th album (not sure which it is) but it’s called “More Adventurous” and I, personally, think it’s better than their eponymous debut. But that’s just me.

  2. I have multiple lists. Also, now that I’ve listened to their first one, I’ll do my best to listen to more. THAT’S HOW I ROLL!

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