I’ve been going nuts recently with the purchasing of new music, and abusing my Zune Marketplace privileges by downloading a dozen albums I have yet to purchase, and transferring them to my player, so that’s ironically been keeping me from actually listening to my new music, since I never listen to music on my actual computer (super-hissy soundcard, y’see). Thus, I have decided to write about an album that is not new (I’ve owned the CD for about 9 years now), isn’t really an old favorite, and just happened to be something I had stuck in my head earlier:
That’s the kind of quality you can expect from this blog.
Now, I know I just said that this album isn’t really one of my favorites, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good! It’s actually quite a good album, the 2nd of 3 albums the band put out in its brief 8 year run. In my opinion, which has been developed by about 9 years of listening to those 3 albums rather consistently, I’d say this one is the 3rd best of 3. AGAIN, it’s not because it’s not good, it’s that the other two are better.
Better as albums, I should say. I am pretty sure my favorite song that Soul Coughing has done is the opening track to this very album, an intensely groovy track called “Super Bon Bon” (note to link-clickers, please enjoy that link to the music video for “Super Bon Bon” while you still can, for reasons unknown to me, it keeps getting removed and replaced). The thunderous upright bassline and deep, toneful drums provide an excellent rhythm, against which all manners of chaos can unfold, courtesy of the keyboardist/noisemaker/sampler guy and singer M. Doughty’s guitar raping (he really is a good guitarist, but a lot of the Soul Coughing songs were more about making noise with that instrument, it seems). The lyrics are, if you are unfamiliar with the band, reminiscent of something far more hip than I am, but very much in line with the band’s style. Themes of urban living, pot-smoking, and generally being unreasonably cool seems to be what the music is all about. It’s something I “dig” possibly more than actually relate to.
The lyrics of Soul Coughing almost seem to serve the rhythm more than having any real point anyway, but I could be missing a deeper meaning there. Mike Doughty’s singing is, well, not, since his style is a barely melodic almost spoken-word type of thing, but therein lies the charm. In using a really simplistic melody structure and not doing anything particularly melodic with the “lead” instruments afore-mentioned, the structure of most Soul Coughing tunes lies solely on the rhythm, which is really good stuff. In that way, the whole album becomes something that you can’t stop bobbing your head along to. By the time the album’s 12 songs are over, you might be feeling a bit fatigued from so much bobbing, but thankfully there is enough variety here to stand up to, oh let’s say, 9 years of listening.
The particular highlights to me are as follows:
“Super Bon Bon”, as I mentioned before, it’s my heavily-contested favorite of the band’s entire catalogue. I pity those who listen to it without having SOME kind of speakers/headphones that will drive that low beat, it’s really where about 60% of the fun in this track is.
“White Girl”, because I am a sucker for unusual beats, and the combination of that and the intensity of the vocal delivery makes this a very special song indeed. The lyrics include the word “discombobulated”, which is excellent, in my book.
“4 out of 5″, simply because the chorus is extremely catchy. Why is it just him adding up numbers? The world may never know.
“Collapse”, which is the kind of intense song I would love to see in a good action scene in a movie, also has a really catchy chorus. The lyrics seem to be telling an action-packed story as well. Man, so cool.
“Sleepless”, because the first part of the song has this extremely low, rumbling tone that sounds something like a gigantic monster sleeping, and since the song is about not being able to sleep (well ok it’s about marijuana but still), it kind of works in that way. It’s actually quite a creepy song with the right audio gear, even when the rest of the band comes in after the first chorus, the low tones stay in the background.
“Soft Serve“, like the confection represented in the title, this song is sweet and chilled (took me all night to come up with that one). I defy anyone who hears this song to go about their day afterward and not abruptly start singing “dayumdumdayumdumdayumdumdayum” until running out of breath. It’s not possible, don’t even try it.
I suppose where the album tends to lose me is in the few points where it slows quite a bit down, in songs such as “Lazybones” (where, I swear, in the background it sounds like he’s smoking something). There are also parts that kind of sound like a not-as-good version of a song from the previous album, an example of this I feel is “Disseminated”, which always reminds me of “Down To This” from Ruby Vroom, the band’s first album, and it reminds me of how much I’d rather be listening to THAT song. Same goes for “The Idiot Kings” which, while a good song, reminds me a lot of Ruby Vroom‘s “Mr. Bitterness”. Perhaps these are just connections I’m making through the process of insanity, I am not sure.
Really though, I don’t mean to be hard on Irresistible Bliss, I can easily listen to it from front to back, and the whole time I’ll be bobbing my head or trying to emulate Mike Doughty’s spastic hand motions (a dangerous move on a bicycle, just to let you know). I think it’s just the incredibly strong debut album the band had with Ruby Vroom and the band’s masterpiece of a final album El Oso that make me feel like Irresistible Bliss just kind of hangs out there in the middle, not being particularly great, but not being bad either, so ambivalence is the only true answer.
Despite this ambivalence, however, one thing should be known as irrefutable in my mind: “Super Bon Bon” is an awesome song. And hey, having even one awesome song is a lot better than a lot of albums out there do!
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