Review Summary: A fantastic release that encompasses beauty, passion, discordance, and coherency is plagued only by a few minor flaws.
As you know, there is a manifold different works in literature. But two that are most apparent to me are the books that are relatively light-hearted or playful in nature, and the books that are relatively provocative, and explore the darker side of humanity with an equally somber approach. Books like Madeline L'Engle's “A Wrinkle In Time” and Norton Juster's “The Phantom Tollbooth” are insightful and allegoric, but use these elements of their writings playfully. Rather than dwelling on the pity that the characters feel, the characters in these books are able to recognize the world around them as a beautiful place by realizing that dragons are not invincible beings, and allow these books to fall into the former category. Other books, like Nathaniel Hawthorne's “The Scarlet Letter” and Harper Lee's “To Kill A Mockingbird” are the polar of this. They are a look into the human condition and social stigmas and enigmas. They are like I Hate Myself's 10 Songs
, a release which is as beautiful as it is intense and awe-inspiring, is a perfect example of embellishing one's mundane problems so dramatically, that they come across just as heartbreaking as the untimely death of a loved one. Lyrically, it is a straightforward mess of emotional wear and tear; musically, it can be exigent and frantic like a stampede of gazelles, or it can be tranquil and heart wrenching; and vocally, I Hate Myself encompasses the subject matter expressed in lyrical form via spoken word, desperate, raucous screaming, and melancholy singing, not once losing the beauty that is the instrumentation, and even the structure, showcased on any of the eleven (re-issue) tracks.
Tracks like “This Isn't The Tenka-Ichi Budôkai” combine all of these elements with some unique chords that hold a special amount of dissonance, and some crystalline, melodic moments. Besides that inclusion, the vocals take on a variety of pitches and often switch from clean vocalization and abrasive unclean vocalization, leading to a more expressive experience for the listener. Other tracks like, “Conversations With Dr. Seussicide” are not only cleverly titled, but they are also explosive bouts of cathartic rigor. The latter track in particular boasts a phenomenal recurring climax. Here the purgative clean vocals and the simplistic, serene guitar line abruptly transform into raucous screams and a variety of instruments creating bellicose, yet perceptible refrain that accelerates the music's intensity and exigency. But this is not the only aural element that is transformed justly. Due to the heightened intensity, the music becomes more convincing and emotional. Desperado cries of depression caused by relatively mundane issues become more and more urgent. Shivers are sent down your spine when these changes of pace occur, and they occur I know not how oft.
“Caught in a Flood with the Captain of the Cheerleading Squad” is an explosion of emotion that encompasses several mediums of sorrow and regret, and is a prime example of these just transformations. However, these transformations are apposite rather than a hodgepodge of haphazardly executed musical ideas. They are the polar of this common regression that many bands fall ill to. Throughout time, progression ensues and allows the songs to have a relevant, memorable structure that allows the lyrical concepts of this album to shine; and the lyrical concepts make the lyrical execution seem far less comparable.
As I've praised the lyrical content throughout this review, I must say that the actual execution does no justice to the focal point. For example, “...and Keep Reaching For Those Stars” uses a lovely metaphor, a miserable man who rides a motorcycle without purpose, for a meandering lifestyle. You see the introspect of this character, and think that the lyrics will either plateau or progress in quality. However, like the quality of the life of the man, the song's lyrical content deteriorates when the lines “I'm going nowhere/I'd rather go somewhere instead/I'm gonna blow a hole through the back of my head.//Don't cry when I say good bye”
appear. It does not matter if a song that has a fine delicacy like this if the lyrics are vapid, just as a pot and a stove are useless if there is no water to boil. Emotion cannot boil, swell, bubble and burst if one believes that the focal point of the introspect is a self-conceited, whiny, prepubescent “misfit.” But this major negative, whilst it detracts a tremendous amount from the final product of the album, is a sheer testament to the power of the band musically.
Many other bands with lyrics as big a hindrance as this allow this flaw to seep into their music, but I Hate Myself are different, as they can create a passionate collection of compositions that range from heartbreaking, slow-paced, indie-based tracks to bellicose frenzies with frantic musicianship across the board. The vocals here are intense and have as much variety as the musicianship, whilst adding emotion to the introspective, albeit shallow, lyrics. And though there are the occasional flaws (primarily the Neanderthal approach to the lyrics), this is a shining effort on the part of this now disbanded Floridian group, and should be noted as such.
FINAL RATING: 4.3/5-A fantastic release that encompasses beauty, passion, discordance, and coherency is plagued only by a few minor flaws.