Review Summary: This is my vindication with a little decoration.
Hailing from the so-called crackerjack depths of New York City, the quartet known as Mindless Self Indulgence
were always an amusing bunch of musicians. Chiefly recognized for their audacious, vulgar stage presence, their method of infusing electronic rock with hip hop and punk elements, and a surprising amount of wisdom beneath MSI's sickening brand of humor, they've gained a devout army of fans over the years. Adding to all this, the band also has had a knack for churning out ear worm after ear worm; believe me, one would probably kick the bucket by now the moment said person has the gall to elude the act's cover of Method Man's “Bring the Pain”. Few would even probably be lying to themselves if they didn't at least have some begrudging respect for lead vocalist James “Jimmy Urine” Euringer's charisma, as well as the range he's got. Throughout Mindless Self Indulgence's wacky career, this whimsical fool has flirted with rapping, falsetto, and the occasional screams every once in a blue moon, so by coupling Urine with the gang's enticing musical style, you have an entourage that was relatively distinctive back in their heyday.
After Mindless had their special way with a trilogy of studio albums, they later released a fourth full-length recording under independent label The End Records. Entitled If
, it is the group's second effort with bassist Lyn-Z, who a couple of you may know as former My Chemical Romance
frontman Gerard Way's spouse, but I digress. Having said that, she previously contributed to You'll Rebel to Anything
, which was – to put it lightly - a record that allowed this team of misfits to gain newly discovered mainstream exposure. At the same time, they also managing to combine the ADHD-inspired atmosphere of the band's first two outings with a noticeably more accessible tone to boot, and this approach was basically expanded upon regarding If
. Boasting 15 tracks on the standard edition of the LP, If
contains what is by far the most cohesive material within Mindless Self Indulgence's catalog. Quite a number of the songs present generally possess an energized, dance-y swagger to them; of particular note is "Bomb in Track": its usage of turntable scratches and Euringer's rapping wouldn't sound out of place in a club-esque setting.
Fortunately for diehard MSI supporters, the album is still Mindless in name and (by extension) attitude. Jimmy's vocals during the record's duration remain distinguishable as ever, albeit comparably controlled in terms of delivery at this point. The man was already in his late 30s, so it's understandable if any restraining is in order. His aptitude for writing satisfactory hooks stays intact, if album opener “Never Wanted to Dance” and “Lights Out” are anything to go by, though to call a lot of these hooks memorable is an overstatement. The performance that these guys' leader brings in is - whilst far from terrible - predictable. Taking into consideration that the other members of this troupe are taking a backseat to programming tactics alongside this being a more vocally-driven effort, Urine's one-liners just sound phoned in. His clever wordplay barely adds anything to the more cringeworthy ditties on here like “Prescription,” “Issues,” and the especially painful “Get It Up”, the latter of which bearing a spoken word section that not only equates to padding – it's, for lack of superior wording, unfunny.
Now in spite of the spotlight shining down on Jimmy much more than necessary and some questionable songwriting choices (*cough* the cheer that introduces “Revenge”), Mindless' fourth collection still has its merits. The production handled by the triad of James Galus, guitarist Steve, Righ?, and of course Jimmy Urine himself accentuates the danceable atmosphere of If
pretty darn well. Those electro-industrial touches almost make this basically above-average album on par with its predecessor. Speaking of sound, while there isn't too much variety to be found unlike, say, Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy
, these industrial jungle pussy punks aren't terrified to experiment whenever they can. “Mastermind” is easily a highlight off the release, possessing a decidedly sinister aura that comes equipped with the whispery voice Urine utilizes through a majority of it. Another standout from If
would be the closer “Mark David Chapman”, a track centered around (and named after) John Lennon's murderer who in the tune takes out copycat musical ensembles in order to stick out amongst the crowd.
Wanna know the bottom line? By and large, If
is an enjoyable and very good library of rousing pieces, being able to stand on its own fine enough. It's nowhere near as insane or jaw-dropping as Mindless Self Indulgence's earlier albums nor does it carry a similar quantum of replay value, but beyond that, this is an acceptable addition to MSI's discography. Anyone unfamiliar with them can start out here for the accessibility value if you aren't sold on the band's arsenal of quirkiness, though the reviewer suggests going chronologically or checking out just Tight
and Frankenstein Girls...