Review Summary: A one of a kind masterpiece with some of the best lyrics ever produced.
Okay, here we have something else entirely. Here we have an album that is at times all-around charming, at other times absolutely absurd and hysterical, and at all times an honest portrait of a man's inner thoughts and feelings. Stroke 9 arrived in the 90s with a radio-hit called "Little Black Backpack" that caught the ears and attention of listeners who were lucky enough to hear it. It was a super-catchy, super-original take on the "girlfriend cheats on boyfriend" genre of music that people were more than familiar with at the time (especially nowadays with the many ego-maniac artists we have to endure), but it's portrayal of this showcased a surprising amount of subtle lyrical touches that only added to the subject matter. This is a song that everyone deserved to listen to, it's that great.
Flash forward to the release of Nasty Little Thoughts and... here's a surprise and a half! Here's an album that actually holds up to it's hit single and often times surpasses it with a shocking amount of finesse on display. It opens up with "Letters", which explodes onto the scene with a nice little guitar intro that wonderfully makes way for the lyrics "You're leaving me here, dear / Alone with all your letters / You're letting it go, no / Like innocence and feathers". If you somehow couldn't tell from that little bit, the lyrics are the stand-out of this particular party (which is the album itself) and they only get richer with quality the further the album progresses.
"City Life" follows the well-rounded opener and surpasses it with ease. The lyrics work wonders, yet again, in painting the visuals of this man's life firmly in your head. Lyrics range from making this fella out to be the next Hugh Hefner ("With the cigarette butts from the mouths of all those little sluts that want me"), then he becomes the lazy slug we've all been more than familiar with in our own lives ("Is it already a quarter to ten? How can I drag my body from this bed again when I feel so heavy from the weight of nothing?") and he finally reveals himself to be the often times disconnected self that we can (once again) all relate to in our own lives ("Now it's a quarter to two, another night runs through without connecting... to anything"). This is masterful songwriting, indeed. Masterful to the point where I'm surprised they don't have songwriting courses out there that use a track like this as a prime example on how to make great, catchy music that any breathing person can easily understand and be delighted by.
If there was a title-track on this album, it would be "Washin' + Wonderin'" (an odd name IMO). It keeps the spirit of "Little Black Backpack" alive with it's depiction of the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship that is (obviously) far from perfect. Later on in the album comes "One Time" (which absolutely obliterates that one song that all those little ladies nowadays absolutely adore), it again showcases the great songwriting that these gentlemen are capable of pulling off with ease. It's a song that's less of a story of relationships and more so about a man who's "less than large brain is controlling the synapses sent from the ends of [his] dangling nerves"... as you can probably tell from that lyric alone, this is a song that more so wants to deliver the catchiest lyrics imaginable (and it does).
Upon the conclusion of this album, I was left exhausted. There's so many varying emotions on display here that it's extremely difficult not to care for what these guys are playing towards. It took me a while to actually put the words down on-screen for why I adore this album so much, but here it is, this album is a pure delight from start-to-finish because of the confidence these guys have in their material. There is absolutely nothing here that feels out of place, as it all pieces together to create a truly breathtaking experience. As I said previously, the songwriting alone is masterful and it's most definitely worth the price you'll have to pay to hear this awesome album in it's entirety. It's one of a kind.