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. Recognized primarily for their audacious and simultaneously vulgar stage presence, their method of infusing electronic rock with hip hop influences, and a surprising amount of wisdom beneath MSI's sickening brand of humor, they've gained a devout army of fans over the years. It's also telling that the band has had a knack for churning out ear worm after ear worm; trust me, you would probably kick the bucket by now the moment you have the gall to elude the act's cover of Method Man's “Bring the Pain”. One would also 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. This whimsical fool during Mindless Self Indulgence's weird career 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 some of you might 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 basically carried over to If
. Boasting 15 tracks on the standard edition of the LP, If
contains what is arguably the most cohesive material in Mindless Self Indulgence's discography, as quite a number of the songs have this energized dance vibe going for them; “Bomb This Track” in particular is rather fitting for unabashed night clubs, complete with turntable scratching during the tune's bridge.
Fortunately for diehard MSI fanatics, the album is still Mindless in name and (by extension) attitude. Jimmy's vocals throughout this adrenaline in CD quality form are still as distinguishable as ever, though he's comparably controlled in terms of delivery at this point. The man was already in his late 30s, so it's understandable if he had to restrain himself. His aptitude for writing satisfactory hooks remains intact, if album opener “Never Wanted to Dance” and “Lights Out” are of any indication, and yet simultaneously speaking, his voice just isn't exciting to hear anymore. The performance that these guys' leader brings in is, although far from terrible, extraordinarily predictable. Listeners can go ahead and debate that because the other members of MSI are taking a backseat to programming tactics instead, Urine's one-liners are phoned in. His wordplay barely adds anything to the more cringeworthy ditties on here like “Prescription,” “Issues,” and the especially painful “Get It Up”, in which the latter has a spoken word section that not only equates to padding – it's merely unfunny, for lack of a better word.
Now in spite of the spotlight shining down on Jimmy a bit too much and some questionable implementations (*cough* *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 sounds 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 still aren't terrified to experiment whenever they can. “Mastermind” is easily a highlight off the release, possessing a decidedly sinister air about the song 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 on John Lennon's murderer who dispatches of copycat musical ensembles in order to stick out amongst the crowd.
Care to 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 perfectly fine. 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 this reviewer suggests going chronologically or checking out just Tight
and Frankenstein Girls...