Review Summary: Autism, trolling, PS Triple, Sonichu
Christine Weston Chandler.
What can be said about such a legendary figure? Forever the internet’s punching bag, her story is the stuff of legends. The fact there’s an entire wiki devoted to her exploits, with articles on her cats, clothes and of course her magnum opus, the infamous Sonichu, she’s definitely what one would call a cult figure. A lot can be said about Christine’s notoriety and the decades (!!) of trolling that has followed her throughout basically all of her adult life. But I’m not here to talk about that today. No, today we’re looking at something else. Christine’s Music.
Outsider music, if you’re unaware, is music made by people with no formal (or frankly any) musical prowess. It’s a genre that houses some of the most legendary figures in underground music from a wide selection of creeds and backgrounds, from the out of tune chaos of The Shaggs, the cozy lo-fi pop of Daniel Johnston and the therapy music of Wesley Willis. Christine’s music fits squarely into this category. Her debut album, Christian and The Hedgehog Boys is, from start to finish, a product of pure fascination. Serving more as a deranged karaoke album than anything else, the LP features several hit songs with Christine singing over them. By that I mean, it’s a lo-fi laptop recording of a pop song, vocals intact, with Christine singing (speaking?) new lyrics over the top of it. Why she didn’t choose an instrumental I don’t know. Christine’s new lyrics tackle a variety of topics, all of them uncomfortably personal. From her frustration at her lack of romantic success (‘So Need A Cute Girl’, sung over The Backstreet Boys ‘I Want It That Way’), her autism (the aptly named ‘A-U-T-I-S-M’, sung over another Backstreet Boys track ‘Larger Than Life’) to her grand creation Sonichu (‘Sonichu Zip’, sung over the Japanese opening to the anime Sonic X), it’s an deeply earnest record. It isn’t entirely listenable either. Due to the vocals from the backing tracks being present, Christine’s vocals are often buried and difficult to make out. Tracks like ‘Sonichu Zip’ are nearly completely incomprehensible, with only a few mumbled phrases breaking through the chaos. In fact, nearly all the songs on this album are like that, and its scant 21 minute run time can feel often like an eternity.
Suffice to say, Christian and The Hedgehog Boys isn’t good. One might say it’s absolutely terrible. On a bad day I might agree with you, but that’s not the case here. You might see this as an attempt to go easy on Christine. Trust me, I’m not giving this album a high rating because I feel sorry for her or for irony’s sake, not at all. It’s because this is a truly unique and interesting work. Christine’s flat and strange vocals harken back to The Shaggs’ equally poor singing and the weirdly personal and uncomfortable lyrics fit well with Wesley Willis’ self therapy music and Farrah Abraham’s equally personalised and distinctive lyrics. Christian and The Hedgehog Boys is more like reading someone’s diary and It’s a genuine case of sensory overload. Something that overwhelms you with its sheer surrealism until it loops back round upon itself and becomes something special. To view this as a proper pop album is not possible, it should instead be viewed for what it really is. A truly intimate and idiosyncratic look into the mind of one of the Internet’s most notorious superstars and I cannot fault it for that. Rock on, Christine.
So Need A Cute Girl
Yellow is A Mellow Color
Feel So Lonesome