First heard "Push The Little Daisies" on John Peel when I was a hairless young freak. The seven inch of "Voodoo Lady"/"Buenas Tardes, Amigo" is one of my happier accidents. But then I also saw them partway through an interminable set of every album they ever played at the last Cambers Sands ATP I ever attended - the Pitchfork one, I think. The hot and sunny one that saw me not drinking AND going to A&E: figure that. That was a grim, noodling, sweaty middle-aged set - both whack and rank, or wank if you will.
Then someone from within the Cliona/Handsome Nick nexus posted a YouTube video of "Awesome Sound" on my Facebook - and I watched and listened and "The Pod" became my next album in the 2kDozen 500.
There's the early Nineties feel of early Beck, that hipster feel, that Meat Puppets feel. "Pollo Asado" has that looking down on poor people or working people feel. But it also has that staying up too late and bending your head with claustrophobic pharmaceuticals and I like that feeling, second hand especially.
Captain Fantasy" and "Awesome Sound" showcase egos inflated like wine bags, turned inside out and upside down. The sardonic feel of passive agressive self-aggrandisement, which I also like. A South Park feel, which I also do not like. Irony is a rusted steel pole in the reinforced concrete of the album. Epic becomes domestic and ridiculous.
"Demon Sweat" is Ween R&B, but not like Beck R&B. "Now I know sometimes I try a bit too hard/And I can't let go of you." I'm assuming this is still in disguise. But two and a half minutes in the Hot Chip bedroom scale is blown open by wailing guitar and chunky, distorted organ, the latter gradually sliding down the tempo into a sludge. "Oh My Dear - Falling in Love" is a weird version of pulling petals off a daisy and sounds relatively straight.
The cloying bass sounds and the helium vocals too close to the mic are scribbled all over. I have an understanding of which bit of idle brain activity they spill out from, but I'm finding it difficult to pin down. I think of young lads in rural caravans, upturned games consoles and very cheap recreational narcotics. Lighter fluid and the like, smoking banana skins. I think it's the needling sensation of stretching jokes out ad absurdia until there's an LP. "Molly" sounds like Mr Blobby, for example.
"Don't Sweat It" sounds strangely like late Blur. "Laura" has a fantastic, circling, doom-laden crescendo. "Mononucleosis" sounds the perfect disease for this music, distorted by fevered glands, teenage boredom - "Can't have smoke/Can't even enjoy a little brew" - until it ends with the sound of a brain being rolled up from the inside. "And you want to lick the sun" is great line for boredom too.
"Sketches of Winkle" is home-made Spinal Tap. Furious little riffs thrashing about to conjure malevolent forces. There is no Devil in this album though, which lyrically sets it apart from Stereopathetic Soul Manure and other Beck stuff from a similar era. I used to worry for that young lad. I hear tales of Boognish; but haven't heard them for myself yet.
"Alone" and "She F**ks Me" try to pass the actual emotional suitcase through customs, but "Who'd have thought I'd be so happy/When I'm cold, she keeps me warm" would be more convincing if not in the schizophrenic low growl them Ween sing in. And the missed Les Dawson notes. The references to "Pork Rolls Egg and Cheese" on the final tracks suggest that munchies are kicking in as the end approaches.
This is horrible music for beautiful minds, or the other way around. I'm still trying to describe where it comes from - a similar spot as The Chap inhabit, but waaayyyyy looser. Loose and tight. Something to do with the End of History. Something to do with the dawn of adulthood.
Rating: Pork Rolls out of Cheese