Review Summary: A pit of money or a pit of despair?
Upon finishing my first go through How Dare you, I had no desire to go back for seconds. For the first time in Electric Six's release history, absolutely nothing stuck out as worth revisiting. Given the realm of pure bombast the band chose to dwell in, a lack of an impression is a death sentence for a record. Repeated exposure did little to amend the issue. The best material on here ("Chicken Wine", "Arrive Alive", "Routine Cocooning") sounds like filler from a decade ago justly left on the cutting room floor, and the worst offenders feel like the band robotically checking off past clichés for the purpose of clocking up run time. The only redeemable feature comes in the form of ambitious instrumental performances, with ample guitar leads, complex bass parts and juicy synth flourishes. This sort of stuff needs a sturdy foundation to elevate into the echelons though, it can't carry a record by itself. I guess this is what being a constant release fixture since 2005, plus drumming up the project rate as time goes by, does to you. All it took was a simple "return to roots" style album to show just how thin the band spread itself over the years. Never fear, for 2018 will see an Electric Six Christmas album (an admission of creative moribundity if there ever was one), a third live album, this time acoustic for good measure, the inevitable studio record, and hell knows what else they feel like doing.
The most fitting coda to this brief write-up comes in the form of the closing lyrics to "The Hotel Mary Chang". Observe as the track takes a turn from uninspired logorrhoea to an unexpected dark place. An earnest, powerless confession or yet another layer of irony" Given the fact the restless frontman's most recent solo venture is a Patreon offering PCP ASMR and financial domination advice, I'm not sure even he knows.
"Why am I checking in here"
‘Cos I accumulated points and got a deal
So why do I have to stay here"
At the Hotel Mary Chang nothing is real, nothing is real
Why do I waste away here"
Because my heart and soul stopped working long ago
So why do I face the fear here"
At the Hotel Mary Chang it’s all I know, it’s all I know"