Review Summary: A truly different release, "Boingo" is as effective and unique as anything in the band's discography.
The 1994 release of Boingo
was not only Oingo Boingo
's last release of new material (a live album and several compilations followed), it is one of their most experimental releases, which can be easily evidenced as you put in the disc and "Insanity" opens up the album. When you hear the intricate string, brass and percussion arrangements typical of frontman Danny Elfman
's film scores, you may be compelled to believe that the disc has been mislabeled and you instead have a copy of the Nightmare Before Christmas
soundtrack instead. The lyrics rebel against an overtly right-wing political atmosphere that had taken over the United States ("a million years of evolution and we get Danny Quayle"). And then out of nowhere, against the pounding drums, xylophone and string arrangements, we hear the eerie drone of a children's choir.
This is not actually an Oingo Boingo album. By this time, the band had become "Boingo" -- the rest of the album is strongly influenced by the uprising of alternative rock that had occurred at the beginning of the decade, unlike the previous ska and New Wave-influenced party albums the band had produced in the 1980s. The band's horn section and keyboardist have been pushed down in the mix to make way for the basics of rock: guitars, bass, drums. "Hey!" opens up less heavily than "Insanity", with intertwining electric and acoustic guitars, making fun of alternative rockers who have nothing to say ("I've got a commentary without much to say...I forgot the whole damn point of this whole song...and I've been complaining for so long."), with its chorus prominently and heavily featuring guitar arrangements, with things getting less hectic in the song's protagonist's apparent mental breakdowns. It certainly says more than anything you'd find on a Nirvana
album. And it's funnier.
Acoustic guitar features prominently in the opening to "Mary", the story of a girl who runs away to find herself, with string arrangements and electric guitar taking the main stage in the instrumental sections and chorus. "Can't See (Useless)", again, heavily employs string arrangements and a subdued band. The nine-minute "Pedestrian Wolves" picks up with heavy electric guitar, but becomes lighter as it goes on. The heaviest track on the album, "Lost Like This", effectively uses electric guitar, pounding drums and rolling bass. "Spider" compliments "Insanity" with its intricate, soft string arrangements. "War Again" effectively uses shaking guitar lines in its anti-war commentary which mocks the oblivious nature of most Americans: "This is better than any video show...it's an action movie!"
Each track is both longer than any song on an Oingo Boingo album and longer than typical singles of any era, with the album's shortest tracks being a 38-second "Tender Lumplings" (apparently an unfinished song intended for Nightmare Before Christmas
) and a cover of The Beatles
' "I Am The Walrus". "Change" lasts a total of 15 minutes and 58 seconds, and is the longest track ever released by the band. Perhaps the lightest track on the album is "Helpless", in which Elfman sings in Jack Skellington mode and humorously rebuffs the rest of the album's content, horn arrangements back in full force. The album as a whole is the perfect antidote to the hordes of humorless suburbanites that have been dominating the airwaves lately, a dark album with effective humorous undertones. Excellent.