Review Summary: Refined schizophrenia at its finest.
"Get outta those shoes and grow wings, kid/
get outta those shoes and grow wings/
People have this tendency to casually connect creativity and insanity, genius and mental illness, to explain why the artistically gifted are the way they are. It's not hard to see the parallels: less-than-normal responses to given tasks, unexpected thoroughfares of thought, irrational bouts of emotion, etc. One study that neuropsychologists performed a couple of years ago even found that creative people and schizophrenic patients have frighteningly similar patterns of brain activation when solving test problems. In this light, creative endeavors are less like novel approaches to normal life than toeings of the line between the norm and abject mental derangement.
Andy "Falco" Falkous enjoys kicking this line in the teeth and, while it's writhing on the basement floor, telling it he ***ed its entire living family over the course of the last decade because he was bored. His brand of spoken-word punk rock is as addictive as it is apt to set your skin crawling, ranging from sociopolitical jousting matches to nonsensical rhyme schemes to stone-cold post-punk numbers covered in grit and squealing feedback. With his first lineup to make it relatively big, Mclusky
, he brought an intelligent angst and cynicism that is still unique in the music world. With the band's last proper LP, though, the fractures in the band's foundation can be heard.
If My Pain and Sadness...
was the band learning how to properly use their instruments, and Mclusky Do Dallas
was a spurt of catchiness from an otherwise obtuse beast, then The Difference Between Me and You Is That I'm Not On Fire
is the darkest dregs of the group's creative output being raised to the surface. The album, while on the surface less tonally aggro'd, seethes with some of Falkous's most genocidal lyrics. From the opening fast-food-lifestyle-lambast, to the petrol bomb burn that is "You Should Be Ashamed, Seamus", to a one-sided argument with an imaginary amateur canoeing enthusiast, the lyrics weave a tapestry of confused and misplaced hate. "Everywhere I look is a darkness", Falkous bemoans, and truly, through the album protagonist's eyes, everything is due for some fear and hate. By far, this is the band's least funny output. Where on ...Do Dallas
and My Pain and Sadness...
, Falkous would pull punches to give listeners a chance to chuckle, there is no such mercy here.
Which, in consideration, makes sense. Over the album's recording, bassist Jon Chapple and Falkous had a falling out, with the result being that there's an undercurrent of decay to the proceedings (plus, the bass guitar in the tracks is either greatly simplified or nonexistent). The arguments and victims of the album's abuse are schizophrenically random because the base of reality was lost in the implosion of the band itself.
Regardless, the crew can't help but craft some angry-as-hell earworms. "Forget About Him I'm Mint" and "She Will Only Bring You Happiness" are some of the most straight-forward pop songs Mclusky ever put to record, while "Your Children Are Just Waiting For You To Die" and "Lucky Jim" both bloom beautifully from minor-chord abstractions into post-punk anthems. Though a wealth of depth is always appreciated, the band knew that making the murk of depression and nutcasery melodic enough to keep a listener's attention was key.
As sad as the band's passing was, they gave one last hurrah in the form of this puddle of congealed blood. A thoroughly engaging, terrifying, and engrossing experience, The Difference Between Me And You...
is well worth a second look after all these years of sitting on the shelf, waiting to suckerpunch a lucky bystander.