Review Summary: preaching to the convertibleAnd I might treat you like a wall I walk by,
with my headphones on and my eyes all gone...
And I might treat you like the buzzing of flies,
With dignity shy and sockets torn...
I wrote a haiku about this record the other day and I don’t think I realised I was doing it. Maybe it happened during the reverie-inducing Pretty Colours
, a song that keeps its daydreaming eyes transfixed on an ecosystem of abstractions. Or, no, it probably happened during American Won/American Too
– a soundtrack to the most miserable night out on the town ever, a night in which those kinetic hours are spent lining the gutter with bed sheets instead of flailing ecstatic under strobe lights. It’s imagery dissolves as its sung, letting us -- the listener -- impart our own social context. This considered -- in the interest of pride, said haiku shall not be disclosed.
This music is neurotic; an exposed nerve in Yoni Wolf’s back catalogue. He is desperate here – desperate enough to talk to God about fucking, desperate enough to consider lobotomy as a panacea for loneliness, and desperate enough to box up imperfect takes for shipping. But, for your consideration: Hymie’s Basement
will always be there – on your Spotify or in your CD player – to play its part as society’s antithesis. 21st Century Pop Song’s
clicking bones act as a critique of urban docility without ever actually addressing it directly, toying with inferences towards gentrification and needless warfare. And yet the duo remain ambiguous, more concerned with the circus flea than the dollar bill.
But the most scathing critique is communicated by the record’s roughly sewn edges. The songs here are scarred and idiosyncratic; I mean, the album is prefaced by an impromptu chuckle. But Hymie’s Basement’s
haphazard, half-asleep demeanour proves itself the perfect way to convey the disaffection of 21st century living. What better way to appraise social values than to bare your mistakes so proudly on the final cut ("FUCKIN’ SHIT”
), and what better way to bring your listeners back down to Earth if not with a cavernous, downtempo piano interlude?
And Yoni Wolf, the warped brain at the basement’s heart, remains incorrigibly playful with all the things he should not be playful with. Not to reduce Broder to a number, his contributions are plentiful (“males of the world you are despicable”
), but Wolf’s patchwork vocal delivery is delightfully impossible to hold still. He whispers in Lightning Bolts and Man Hands
(aka heartbreak) and intones in a choked-up monotone throughout Ghost Dream
as if he’s bored but perpetually frustrated – eating a microwaved dinner over the evening news, experimenting with turns of phrase as the spiritless glow of the TV screen burns into his retinae.
is a cold and claustrophobic place, which is vital. It is far and away from the blinding, overbearing nothingness of quotidian routine. It allays this pervasive cultural anesthesia by accosting it over dissonant guitar patterns, and then it recoils back against the thick stone walls like a sheep in Wolf's clothing. Come upstairs, kids, dinner's ready.
All american male product shelf-life agony,
masturbate your birthday party...
if you're lonely, get a lobotomy,
The wall I walk by is speaking to me...