Review Summary: We are apparently too cool for the 2nd grade.
Hailing from the 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; this reviewer would be remiss not to mention their iconic cover of Method Man's “Bring the Pain”. Few would even lie 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 developed throughout the years. Over the span of 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 distinctive as they were rich with power 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 was the group's second effort with bassist Lyn-Z. 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 that permeated the band's first two outings with a noticeably more accessible tone to boot, and this approach was basically expanded upon concerning 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, songwriting-wise. 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 Hot Topic-fied rave setting.
For diehard MSI fanatics, 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 professional in inflection and pitch this time around. His aptitude for writing delicious chorus passages stays intact, if the likes of album opener “Never Wanted to Dance, "Animal," and "Mark David Chapman" are anything to go by. 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 once-clever wordplay barely adds anything to the more cringeworthy ditties on here like “Lights Out,” “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* that aforementioned spoken word section on "Get It Up”), 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 well. Those electro-industrial touches alone come close to making this otherwise okay recording 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.
is an enjoyable and good library of (mostly) rousing pieces, being able to stand on its own just 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 the reviewer suggests going chronologically or checking out Tight
first; hell, You'll Rebel to Anything
proves as effective a starting point.