Review Summary: Free at last.
I remember the first time I heard the Midnight Ep. It was a strange thing to hear Josh Scogin, the frontman and mastermind behind the Chariot making music that was almost, well, fun. There was a relief in the sound, a kind of self-mockery that kept the listener from taking it too seriously, which is interesting, because if there's one thing the Chariot epitomized, it was self importance and seriousness. Where Chariot wanted to squeeze my face into a grimace, '68 was only out to make me smile.
So, needless to say, I was excited to hear In Humor and Sadness. I wanted to see Scogin take his trademark rage down a different path. I wanted to hear the riffs that were able to simultaneously pummel and uplift at the same time, and I wanted a new dose of those lovely screams. Most of all, I wanted a focused effort, something that wouldn't pale in comparison with the last two masterpieces the Chariot put together. But I didn't get that.
On the first listen, this album seemed incredibly unfocused. Songs darted in and out, failing to give any sort of "wow" factor at all. Light instrumentation and clean vocals came in to replace the distortion and heaviness that was Scogin's trademark. I was angry. How could this have happened, especially when every song released prior kept the hope alive? Maybe Josh Scogin wasn't the genius I made him out to be, everyone made him out to be. Maybe he was a bum.
Or maybe not. When I finally worked up the courage to listen to it again, there was a remarkable err of confidence in Scogin's voice and playing, as if he knew I wouldn't like it. As if he was revelling in how unfocused he was. As if, in a strange way, he was more than content to feed my anger with a song like Track 9, which is just a quiet guitar and half-hearted singing. He wanted it this way. And he was right all along.
This album is Josh Scogin throwing up his middle finger to the world, and it is glorious. Every expectation that was made has now been shattered, and this release stands as the evidence for a new man. Of course it's unfocused, but it's beautiful in that. Gone are the chains of previous bands, previous masterpieces, previous atmospheres, previous reputations. Here to stay is the man who is using his newfound creative freedom to make some of the best music of the year.
Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last.