Review Summary: Fuck nuclear physics!
Jangly NYC indie rock band Goodfight, on their 2017 debut mini-LP Florida Room, didn't do much to muddy the waters of sonic pleasure. “Lucy,” my most-played song of all time, has all the sheen and bounce of circa-2009 Real Estate or Girls and other guitar-centric indie rock bands of their ilk; the song has an unusual structure but its sunny hooks nonetheless go down like water. Now, with their self-titled debut, Andrew Forman and co. are content to throw hella wrenches at their own sonic ideas, so that the poppy guitar hooks are modified by their eventual incorporation into soupy structures of drum machine, synth pad, tape loop, cymbal wash, etc.
The whole thing is kind of a mess: Forman doesn’t seem to make much of an effort to clarify the relationship between the frankly-insanely-good sugar-rush power pop harmonies—often motored by the heartrending coo of Annique Monet—of an “Aqua Gorilla” or a “Why Choose to Run” and the entropic, hypnagogic dissolutions of those same songs. Immediately there’s a part of me that is made to want an unceasing exhibition of full-body sprints through Major-7 chords, as I know I so deserve—I tend to like the ambient noodling less than the surf-y singalongs, in other words. Alack, though, remember the Rick and Morty principle, wherein it seems difficult indeed to separate the elements that please me (the zaniness of the plots, the imbrication of love and conflict, the often-hilarious improvised dialogue) from the stuff that pricks me (showrunners Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s implicit “agreement” with infallible supergenius Rick); in a way that’s hard to explain, it feels like it wouldn’t be sustainable to ask for the former without the latter. In a similar manner, it seems very difficult indeed to disimbricate Forman’s ecstatic approach to melody from his desire to stuff all sorts of random sonic ideas, ideas both mysterious and familiar, into the structural nooks and crannies. In both cases, the effect is one of ecstasy and density of experience, so that even if I like the songs better than the structural interludes and think there are too many of the latter, I can still have fun thinking about their mutual presence in Forman’s musical impulses and the extent to which those impulses and presences are mutually beneficial.
Goodfight makes this thought experiment worth it mostly on the strength of the brilliance of “Aqua Gorilla” and “Why Choose to Run,” both breathless expressions of emotional ebullience and technical panache. You will dance in your chair when you hear the victorious group chant “THIS NIGHTMARE’S FINALLY OVER”; you’ll feel somehow energized to research the lyrics to a song that isn’t even represented on Rateyourmusic.com. Hell yeah! Though the second half of Goodfight is messier and all told less memorable than the first half, its shimmering guitars and synthesizers are still a pleasure to listen to and I like that something about the seamless flow of the album and Forman’s gonzo creativity makes it feel like I gotta take it or leave it. Music doesn’t always have to analogize the human spirit or serve as your personal companion. But it can model in an imprecise way a means of understanding the people around you. I’m not saying that all of Goodfight is good of necessity because some of it is so good. There’s no real need to make such an argument, as Goodfight is an exceptionally pretty and intriguing new record, an exciting gem of weirdo indie pop that could find a big audience, I think, with the right PR moves. But it’s also a record that you should listen to because it’s frustrating enough to teach us a real lesson about acceptance. Fuck nuclear physics—that’s smart.