Review Summary: An excellent example of a man finding his sound
Truth be told, Deaf
, by JG Thirlwell’s erratic musical outlet Foetus
, was not that challenging of a record. The lyrics, while rude at times, weren’t any worse than the stuff you hear on the radio, and the noisy instrumentation is a little “tame” by today's standards. Really, the only offensive aspect about that record was its amount of useless filler tracks. Ache
, however, is an album that is just as destructive and mean spirited today as it was back when it first came out in the early 1980’s.
The major difference between Deaf
is that the latter is much more focused. Here, the instrumentation is less spastic and more contained, and it rarely gets out of hand. The lyricism has also changed, they’ve become morbid, detailing murder, racism, suicide, and so on. The opener track, “Dying With My Boots On” contains not only a sample of one of Adolf Hitler's despicable hate speeches, but the lyrics “Spend your life acting out chapters of your autobiography/When life ain’t worth the paper it’s printed on”.
If one were to listen to this without any knowledge on Thirlwell, for sure they would believe he was either insane, evil, or depressed.
Lyrically, the most grueling track on the record might just be “Wholesome Town”, the lyrics “Let’s lynch that ****** in the tree/The christian way of life”
are an absolutely scathing mockery of American racism, but are told through a whisper, making it very easy to miss upon listening. “Kid Hate Kid” is another bleak song to mention, which details murder and its conductor: a bitter, antisocial man who lives a life of envy, set out to destroy anyone who leads a better life than him. The best part about these two tracks is the campy, light hearted tone of the instrumentation. The negativity within the lyricism can easily be missed by listeners due to the seemingly upbeat music, which just shows how infectiously good the music really is.
The musical overtones of funk and pop are very much present on Ache
, in “Mark of the Ostracizor” includes some of the grooviest slap bass I’ve ever heard, making it all the more fun to listen to, and the line “Turn the screw until it bleeds/Then turn it again”
is one that will stay in your head for days. However, the closer track “Instead… I Became an Anemone” summarizes Ache the best, It’s a catchy pop track about giving up. It compares the life of a drunk sailor to that of a pessimistic man who’s fed up with the people around him. “Who cares about the thoughts of a drunken sailor?/Who cares about the thoughts of a sunken failure?”
Thirlwell asks with smirk in his voice. “Instead…” is mean spirited, pessimistic, and all around upsetting, which makes it the perfect closer to an album like this.
There are a few downsides to the record, though. The biggest flaw with the album is its production, which can be rather flimsy at times. Some instruments have annoying tones to them, some instruments are louder than others, and so on. While Foetus is known for its superb production, Ache
leaves something to desired, thus lower its rating a bit. However, when it comes to the history of Foetus, Ache is a very important piece of JG Thirlwell’s discography because it shows him finding his sound.