Review Summary: "Remain here and keep watch with me/Distrust crowds and don't leave the house/We'll balk and dither and grouse/Affirm there's nothing outside/Confirm there's nothing outside"
"Simple folk need their love songs
Idiots love an anthem
Dinner bell for the dull
Cattle call for morons
Repeat a woman's name
Keep your verses vague
Motivate yourself to sing along"
The first verse of "Aletta" couldn't more accurately describe Self Defense Family's approach to writing music. This is a band that has long eschewed the foundations of what a band should
be. Patrick Kindlon's tongue-in-cheek lyrics have always been a big reason for this, but on Try Me
, Self Defense Family's first full length album following their name change from End Of A Year, they have reached dizzying new levels of casually affronting glory- and all in the most majestic way possible.
Kindlon's delivery has always been top-notch, but the band's production value never really offered a vehicle with enough horsepower to match. This has changed over the past two years in the shape of Self Defense Family's 7" vinyl releases and Split EPs- particularly the two installment "Island" series of EPs, 2013's The Corrections Officer In Me
, and now Try Me
. Those expecting to hear the groovy jams of "All Fruit Is Ripe" will be satisfied by "Nail House Music" and "Fear of Poverty in an Old Age," two bold-faced rockers that assert the group's tersely radical chops and penchant for infectious hooks. "Nail House Music" is thematically similar to "To The Scattered Bodies Go" in terms of lyrics, though there's always the possibility I'm interpreting that wrong, and I didn't go to Mr. Kindlon for confirmation (sorry Pat).
So by now you're probably thinking "Okay, Kat
, what makes this album worthy of the almighty 5 usually reserved for the La Disputes, Thrices, and At The Drive-Ins of the world." It's because this Try Me
is a far deeper, more complex, and nebulous creation that is far less safe than anything bands like those have even dreamed of creating. For the "stupid" or the "Hellen-hunted to extinction" as referenced on "Aletta"- which is SOTY 2014 by the way- I'm just using La Dispute, Thrice, and At The Drive-In because if I wrote Lungfish, Alloy, and Opium Taylor, Sputnik users' brains would explode. I'm not being pretentious, which is what some will call Try Me
, but as "Dingo Fence" proudly proclaims "all the dumb cunts they get what they want." And if you're not a "cunt", it also proclaims the same thing only swapping the slightly less offensive (depending on where you live) "cock."
I can't even get into the lead single "Turn the Fan On" without weeping.
The questioning of religion which has become ingrained in the blood of Self Defense Family is close to the core of Try Me
, but is not as blatantly presented as it has been in the past. "Apport Birds" in which Kindlon mourns a pet by doing what" Talking about how people feel when their loved ones die. "I understand the pull of religion/When there's a loss that won't stop itching," he croons. This is offset by the journey into country-influenced post-hardcore that is the Caroline Corrigan-sung "Mistress Appears At Funeral" one track before.
The spoken word parts are a big part of the experience and are best served to be listened to back to back, which will unfortunately be difficult to achieve with the vinyl release. I do not wish to spoil the experience by describing them- I implore you to listen for yourself.
Self Defense Family have created an album of magnificent texture and fathomless depth. This is the type of record that people will still be playing decades from now. Brilliant is an adjective befitting of so few works of art, but Try Me
is every bit brilliant as it is decadent and resoundingly reflective.