The Fun Years
Baby, It's Cold Inside


5.0
classic

Review

by Matt Wolfe EMERITUS
April 6th, 2009 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Flying criminally under the radar in 2008, Baby, It's Cold Inside should be looked at as a future ambient/drone classic.

Baby, It’s Cold Inside is one of those albums. You know the ones. One of those albums which, within moments of its starting, has you drifting in the dust of another world. One of those albums which you keep on repeat because you simply don’t know what to do with yourself when it ends. One of those albums which defies gravity; it goes up but it doesn’t come down, it somehow gets better with every listen. Yet, it’s also one of those albums which must accede to the ritual almost every truly great album must go through before its true potential is realized…

As the new releases pile up, you leave it for a little while. You say you’ll come back to it. I mean, how could you not? But the days of neglect soon turn to weeks and, before you know it, you’ve forgotten all about its existence. But that’s not the end of it.

Skip forward: a rainy Sunday afternoon. A wisp of surrealism floats in the air. Something feels different today but you can’t quite place it. You shuffle irritably through your record selection, trying to find a sound that will suit the peculiar mood of the day, but with no luck. As you begin to turn away, Baby, It's Cold Inside catches your eye. A nostalgic smile comes across your face as you slide it out from between its two neighbouring album sleeves. Perfect. You hit play, put on your headphones, and lie back watching the silent rain beat against the windows. Within seconds you've melted through your couch and slipped back into that world again, paralysis consuming. You haven't been there in so long you're actually relived it still exists. And you think to yourself... why did I ever leave?

The Fun Years’ second LP after the promising Life-Sized Psychoses is exactly this, and is, quite simply, a monster. It rounds up the assorted sounds of Philip Jeck, GAS, Mogwai and Grouper, drone, electro-ambience, post rock and psychedelic folk, and stomps across each one of them, picking out and sucking on the bones that jut from their flesh. But, somehow, it does so quietly, clinically, and with gorgeous deft. Scattered with organic glitches and crackles, the album radiates a homely, yet otherworldly warmth. Ben Recht’s lush, gently assertive guitars swell and shrink, slowly pulsating to develop layers upon layers of rich, seemingly bottomless musical density. The turntables, operated by Isaac Sparks, sound strangely pure, inartificial, as if the artist had clutched the sky, captured a sound, and released it into the habitat of the album. The measured blend of both member’s work becomes essential to the record’s natural air. All the elements end up working in tandem to create music which slips tantalizingly in and out of focus, blurring the line between organic and electric.

Opener ‘My Lowville’ takes these ingredients to create a track which immediately envelops the listener in a capsule of nostalgia and faraway thoughts. The spitting crackles introduce a simple guitar melody which throbs purposefully, before a new, intensely thick guitar note slowly spirals up and swirls around everything else. It encircles the track in noise, like a heavy smoke, the track itself struggling for breath before the noise dissipates so subtly its absence only becomes noticeable when it has fully disappeared. Each track slips into the other like the new phase of a dream, with middle track ‘Fucking Milwaukee’s Been Hesher Forever’ acting as the central event. The sound of sucking, vinyl crackles, and other miscellaneous noises accompany dual guitars which start solidly enough but gradually begin to collide, thus rippling against each speaker. Spacey ambience rises and falls, ticks and tocks, always moving but impossible to catch in flight, creating a track which very much embodies Brian Eno’s famous saying; that truly great ambient music has to be listened to on a number of levels, be it actively or inactively.

And that is the allure of this album. Like a small but prominent number of albums before it, it can be enjoyed in so many interweaving ways. It would be impossible to pay your undivided attention to it for its entire 45-minute run time, but focusing on the density, trying to pick out each level of noise is quite awe-inspiring. Yet, just as you start to think how remarkable the attention to detail is, you’ve slipped out of that active state into an inactive one and the record takes your hand and guides you back into your own thoughts. Then something pops up and you want to focus once more. This is a cycle which repeats itself throughout, and is a testament to the greatness of a true ambient/drone record. People think ambient music is just a bunch of pretty noises, designed to be listened to as an accompaniment to other tasks, to help you chill out, but, essentially, to not be given any attention. The Fun Years have created an album here which destroys that notion. Its perpetual warmth does not and cannot go unnoticed.

Baby, It’s Cold Inside isn’t perfect. ‘Auto Show Day of the Dead’ uses and repeats a slightly ill-advised piano section which puts the theme of warmth on hold and freezes the record in a state which is perhaps too eerie and too paranoid. The hot spits of glitches continue while a guitar line almost parallels the piano one, but they are no longer steeped in reminiscence and contemplation, but instead in one-eye open anxiety and sinister weirdness. Nevertheless, the band has still managed to create a world here for the listener to experience, investigate and wander. It may not be in keeping with the rest of the record, but it is still a meticulously structured, fantastically vast and flawlessly detailed world regardless.

That’s why records like this are so difficult to review. Not only do they transport you to places that are so deeply personal to each individual that describing them would be, ultimately, meaningless. Not only do the worlds themselves so defy the manacled categorizations of adjectives and verbs that they force the reviewer into making descriptions which are vague and almost spineless. Not only this, but these albums also require your attention to wander to fully succeed, to be actively inactive. To bore and to burrow into the noise, to develop and to tangle outside of it. Eventually, the sounds of these records fertilize thoughts that tunnel so deep or climb so high that you couldn’t possibly follow them to the end. But ask yourself: would you really want to?

Baby, It’s Cold Inside embodies all these qualities and more. It’s simply one of those albums. And while the theme which unites this special group of albums is their alluring ineffability, there is still one word that can be assigned to them. Timeless.



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user ratings (22)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Minus The Flair
Emeritus
April 6th 2009


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

My longest review in ages, sorry about that. And for the hyperbully.



I'm very picky with my 5's, I always think of this as a 4.5 until I'm actually listening to it, especially when I'm in a certain mood, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt as it deserves the attention.This Message Edited On 04.06.09

robin
Emeritus
April 6th 2009


4588 Comments


brilliant review. i looked past this when pillaging your blog but i guess i should check it out.

joshuatree
Emeritus
April 6th 2009


3741 Comments


got this from your blog a few days ago, and i liked it a lot after a couple listens, but i've no idea what to rate this. need to listen more.

also excellent review, extremely well-written

kitsch
April 6th 2009


5117 Comments


awesome review. it sounds like i am in dire need of this album.

blawg linx plz?

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
April 6th 2009


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

cam, listen to it when that rainy sunday comes along. that should make your mind up.. 8]



kitsch - check it out, along with other semi-awesome stuff, at www.ex-cowboys.blogspot.com





gaslightanthem
April 6th 2009


5208 Comments


golden

KILL
April 6th 2009


81232 Comments


girls

kitsch
April 7th 2009


5117 Comments


yay you link mediafire!

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
April 7th 2009


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

as much as possible, everything else kinda sucks.



yes this is a shameless bump.

Doppelganger
April 8th 2009


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I got this from your blog a week or so ago also. Incredible stuff. Great review, also.

joshuatree
Emeritus
April 8th 2009


3741 Comments


Yeah this is very very good

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
April 9th 2009


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's a shame I didn't find and review this last year cos it looks like it would have made a few end-of-year lists and given it the attention it deserves. At least that's the way I found it.

Canzonet
April 14th 2009


6 Comments


5 is overstating it a little for me, I'd go with more of a 4. Very good album nonetheless.

luci
April 14th 2009


11882 Comments


Since when have you been staff? lol
This sounds excellent, will check it out

robin
Emeritus
April 14th 2009


4588 Comments


i love my lowville; the rest of the album just floats by. still an awesome find mr. staff

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
April 14th 2009


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Only since this morning I think Lucidity. Woke up and there was the tag under my name haha. Definitely check it out though, it's at my blog - url is in the comments somewhere.



Robin, if I was in charge you woulda made staff. You'll get it at the next shot I'm sure. But yeah, Auto Show kinda peeves me cos it interupts the record with that jarring piano, if that wasn't there I think it would be easier to love the rest of the record.



This has become my ...And Their Refinement of the Decline as a go-to record for times like.. that.

MaskAtTheMasquerade
April 25th 2009


2924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Gave it a 4.5, thinking about bumping it up to that five though

Skishua71
April 29th 2009


90 Comments


you are a fantastic writer

robin
Emeritus
May 2nd 2009


4588 Comments


love this now. starts and ends the best.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
May 2nd 2009


870 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

=)



gonna listen to this now



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