I get a little ahead of myself every so often. Ever had the experience, feeling like your musical taste is so well-defined that you’ve discovered everything worth listening to, everything that you want
to hear? As egotistical as the sentiment may be, I’m embarrassed to admit the ridiculous assertion has briefly crossed my mind before... then along comes Silkworm. The album doesn’t simply flitter by aimlessly like so much of the indie rock it preceded; rather, it stamps a foot down. There’s an indentation in my ears for Lifestyle,
a special place all to itself to prove it resonates so deeply. Lifestyle
is a breath of fresh air, a stark reminder of the massive magnitude of music that has yet to grace my ears. To be honest, the indie-rock trio from Seattle most likely will not test your convictions like they did mine, I think it calls for a more personal connection between a specific album and listener. Though, Lifestyle
is a testament to style and talent, to the exquisite coalescence of disparate elements, regardless. Congratulations: whether or not Silkworm will open your mind and expand your horizons is yet to be seen; but nevertheless, you just discovered a spectacular album.
At the very least, Lifestyle
is dreadfully neglected... but who’s to blame? With near-peers like Pavement, Built to Spill, and Guided By Voices all preceding the band by a few years, it’s expected that Silkworm aren’t allotted the reverence they deserve. On their 2000 LP, Silkworm fulfill every promise indie rock has made. The fun album is satisfying and engrossing throughout, and here’s why:
The wistful record sends me reeling back to a sense of longing and contempt, not much unlike the plane departing on the hazy cover art. The soft fuzziness of the landscape is replicated in the music perfectly, magnifying the surreality of the record, like getting lost in an unfamiliar city. Produced in Steve Albini’s famed studio, the production heightens the experience of Lifestyle
by providing a significant backdrop to some fairly standard instrumentation. A distinct echo is audible throughout, giving Silkworm more layers, more buoyancy. It’s in this vivid environment that the band is able to create a spectacular hybrid of so many disparate elements: simplicity and complexity, breeziness and profundity, tension and release.
Silkworm tread between these contrasting aspects with flair, truly Lifestyle
’s most gratifying component. Upon first glance, Silkworm delivers an apt, lovable package with catchy melodies, simplistic lyrics, and a nonchalant vibe. Examine “Treat the New Guy Right,” because there’s nary a better song on Lifestyle
, and it also serves as the perfect microcosm for the album. The off-kilter melody is a bit quirky, but will also be indefinitely hard-wired into your psyche for eternity, as catchy a base as it provides. By the time the double-chorus enters, the song has burst into a flame of magnificence, “When you run into the night / Ain’t you ever been alone in your life? / Motorhead is comin’ for you / You gotta treat the new guy right.”
As far-fetched as it may seem, the exquisite combination of melody and crooning is equally infectious as anything Pavement or Built to Spill has produced. Once again, it’s the dichotomies of the track that just radiates passion, and in the end sets Lifestyle
apart as a truly great work that’s slipped by far too many radars.
Whether it’s delivered in a fast-paced fervor or a walk-along drawl, Tim Migett astounds again and again with his sullen, lackadaisical vocal abilities; once again serving to further the theory of Lifestyle
’s beautiful dichotomy. The sunny, insouciant lyrics don’t match the protracted indie-rock licks, incredibly reminiscent of Built to Spill. The wistful longing of Tim’s vocal duties, which stay constant across the board, don’t even come close to matching the diversity of material and songwriting on Lifestyle
. No, why would Silkworm want to “match” when the elements complement
each other so incredibly well? There’s a subtle grandiosity about the restrained beauty on the album. The way Silkworm is able to bend and morph every which way to create Lifestyle
, in all its glory with elegantly layered melodies and shining guitar lines, is a truly endearing, profound experience.
Stop: can we sport some rose-colored glasses and pretend that we live in a world where artful display of skills and talents are the main attraction for attention, and bands with these assets are rewarded their fair share of fame? In this alternate reality, Silkworm are just as prominent as their peers. Alongside Pavement, Built to Spill, and Guided By Voices, they don the indie crowns... ironically, of course. Instead, Silkworm lie down alongside the Sebadohs and Eric’s Trips of the scene. Based on Lifestyle
, this humble post couldn’t be more fitting for the band. There’s a lovable modesty on the indie-rock staple, and the captivating record only gains power with time. Whether its the discerning wherewithal of “Contempt,” the fantastic cover of The Faces’ “Ooh La La,” or songs like “Raging Bull” that display Silkworm’s penchant for blending skill and accessibility, there’s more than enough material on Lifestyle
to fall deep in love with.
Am I getting ahead of myself with Silkworm, now? Absolutely not. Lifestyle
is an intrinsically delightful record. The music is phenomenal in its ability to astound not simply with the technicality of the release, the tension or the carefree vibe, but in its distinct blend of these elements. I’m not making any promises that this will skyrocket to your collection of indie classics, but that’s the staple of Lifestyle
’s beauty, I think. The album doesn’t demand to be there, like it deserves this placement, but it sure asks nicely. With every listen that displays some new and exciting aspect of the 12 intelligently-crafted songs, I’ve become more and more inclined to take Silkworm up on their humble request.