What stood out to me first about this record was the earth-shaking, bone-breaking drumming. The utter brutality of the Number Twelve Looks Like You is best exemplified by Chris “Chree” Conger’s percussion work – this is the only full-length album of theirs that he performed on, and I think he must have been quite a driving force in the band because they suffered an unfortunate decline as they progressed past the debut. Even so, that doesn’t take away from this pure gem. With plenty of double-bass pedal, surreal guitar licks and murderous screams to go around, “Put on Your Rosey Red Glasses” is not only the Number Twelve’s best, but a classic in every sense. The time since its early 2003 release has allowed its perfection plenty of scrutiny, and nothing seems to turn it down a notch – it’s as loud and aesthetically pleasing as ever. Besides the thunderous instrumentation this record is truly groundbreaking, an ice-breaker in the conversation about whether or not this music could become popular. Even though you’re bound to see plenty of maybe ignorant young scholars with half of their hair plastered to one side of their face and a Number Twelve tee tightly grasping their malnourished lank, there is something creative about this band unlike your average drama queen. Despite them, I’m relieved that something as unusual as “Rosey Red Glasses” is vastly approved. While now in late 2009 their bizarre music is basically the genre’s norm, what they accomplished is certainly fantastic.
“Put on Your Rosey Red Glasses” is an album that was produced extraordinarily. Nothing goes unheard; even in moments of heavy distortion the music sounds like a moving collage, with different instruments trading the limelight as each song unfolds. Whisking away sanity is the band’s constant desire to be abstract, and while some might call that a contrived notion, it works, simple and plain. Directly after the soothing resolution of the angry and confused tragedy If These Bullets Could Talk
, the most catastrophic song on the record takes over for a few seductively destructive seconds until we’re brought back to the serenity we so desired after four punches in the face, and an eerie recording of the narration of a letter written by a child killer who detailed their daughter’s slow and cannibalistic death to the young one’s parents (Document. Grace Budd). Civeta Dei
describes a sad sacrifice with alarmingly beautiful poetry, and as one of the dual vocalists laughs a hopeless chuckle before the bridge, a sharp chill runs up to my shoulders from my back every time. Blue Dress
was the first Number Twelve song I ever heard…it’s straining tension builds a fluid professionalism of verses and chorus among the mass disorder, and is easily the purest example of premeditated songwriting on an album that seems to disregard such strategy. With each song comes a new story told in a totally different way – not a single track recalls another, originality is omnipresent on this epic.
All of the band’s members are obviously skilled, especially the drummer and guitarist. In order to keep up with their blazing fashion, two singers (or more accurately, “screamers”) were enlisted to poeticize Number Twelve’s calamity. The lyrics offer martyrdom for a love who seems to have suffered much herself. As the album continues on however, it becomes obvious that doom has come and the storyteller was harshly betrayed. I think this story is far more human than fantasy though, based on the divorce littered metaphors of Blue Dress
perhaps this lost love was a familial one. In the film “Devil in a Blue Dress”, the woman betrays the man and while they were nowhere near married, the lyric “to get back at your bastard’s lust” recalls the movie’s theme of finding and stopping another man looking to hurt the deceptive girlfriend of yet another
man. A complex story and a complex song to boot. Essentially this is an album of duplicity and unsound conduct in its wake.
Every song is different and devoid of flaw. The creativity that must have been involved in “Rosey Red Glasses” should be regarded as an awesome feat to be surpassed and even when it is, the classic status of this album will remain for the artistic opportunity it created. The record is brief and sad but also a milestone, and it’s power has yet to be dethroned.