Review Summary: The SGM's third album jumps out at you and says, "don't avoid that which is out of the ordinary: embrace it with open arms and accept that things are-a'-changin'."
The Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is comprised of some of the most mysterious, befuddling, and downright weird musicians ever to show their odd faces. With their third album, In Glorious Times, they continue to explore the haunting melodies and shocking screech-noises that abound their previous work; their newest forage into the world of avant-garde musicianship confirms that they're just beginning to let their archaic ideas flow.
The album starts off on a creepily sad note with "The Companions," an eerie illustration of betrayal with Spanish lyrics intermixed with plodding guitar plucking and chimes; everything employed herein creates an atmosphere of sorrow and unease, a theme very prevalent on the album's entirety. Of course, as the final notes of the song fade, you are led straight into a fiery cataclysm, "Endless Corpses Enactment," which is a death-metal-esque explosion of fury with lyrics taken from James Joyce's final work: Finnegans Wake.
The rest of the album is ridden with obscure references, as is commonplace with the Museum. Unless you're absolutely brilliant and have read up on your Irish literature, you're not going to fully comprehend the band's lyricism on your first play-through. What does stick, however, is the initial surprise and suspense that the music presents you. I'm not going to lie to you: it's a hard listen if you're not an enthusiast of abstract music already. If you're willing to sit back and enjoy the experience though, you're going to find some very interesting, enticing attributes in "In Glorious Times."
The instrumentation encompasses bass, acoustic, and electric guitars, as well as the violin, the chimes, and some piano; the band also constructs its own custom instruments such as the infamous "popping turtle" and the "wiggler," which add to the complexity and rhythm of each sing. Vocals are supplied mainly by Nils Frykdahl (the lead who immediately kicks off "The Companions) and Carla Kihlstedt, who provides all the female vocals. The overall sound can be described as outright cacophonous with a dash of intermingling beauty: there's not a miscalculated musical moment to be heard here. One minute, a battering bass background supported by tin pitter-patterings will lead the singers along their self-appointed lyrical roles, while another will heel to an assault of climaxing guitars and violins and drumbashings. For a first-time listener, the album will present an ever-changing oscillation of instruments.
If you've never heard the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum in action before, this album is a great place to start. If you do deem to dream and depart from normalcy, you won't be disappointed with this.