Thursday, October 6, 2011

album review - I'm with you

first impression - it comes too easy - first impressions not always right
first pass, second pass, i didn’t hear anything that i thought was thought was going to stick
maybe the rap/chorus contrasts in even you brutus, maybe the chorus in brendan’s death song, rain dance maggie

but i also remember, to be fair, I didn’t “get” blood sugar sex magic right away either (of course, I was pretty young for it at the time). but the longer i listened the better it got. so i gave imwithyou the front of the playlist for three days. that’s three return trips to work, some extra highway time picking up the kids, some extra time in the office on my ipod...

it has weird echoes of former songs - and not even ones I liked, things I thought were not quite ‘finished’ on onehotminute or bytheway... but somehow in the echo, in a part of a phrase of a different song, they are redeemed.

what has three days amounted to in imwithyou land?
i cried the fourth day, listening to Brendan’s death song. Sometimes music takes me away to where i wish i had written, read, or performed something somewhere. It used to be epic rock operas that I wish I’d put on stage in high school. I don’t know.
But this one was I wish I’d read or sung it at someone’s funeral.
I’d like it at my funeral.
I have a list of those songs somewhere, for messing with people at my funeral - i update it periodically.
I’d add this one.

every listen reveals a little more craft, another layer in the backing vocal, another turn of phrase that is actually dead clever, works on two levels, and so on.
another rumbling drum track. boom de yadda.

it isn’t 4 young sociopaths locked in a haunted house in beverly hills given free range to improvise a wall of sound with children’s pianos, pipes, rubbish bin lids, horns, and everything else that was bssm. but it is something. the madrigal build at the end of brendan’s death song. the female vocal parts to did i let you know.

it’s not about sexual ascendency and immortality and experimentation.
it’s about mastery, reflection, love and loss, sex and death, and even parenthood.
it’s the opposite of a mid-life crisis.

go back to first impressions - it’s cardboard. double layer of cellophane. the cd is in there already - which struck me as odd - the stores are so numb to stock loss that they don’t keep the disks behind the counter anymore. but hey, it’s not like anyone is stealing music anymore, right?

but then - I get it, it is a replica LP sleeve. complete with sleeve notes on one side. it is stripped back - where blood sugar sex magic was worked and reworked and reinked until every page was filled with swirly curlicue the song lyrics for imwithyou are austere. text on white. unformatted. sans curlicue. the inside of the sleeve is - blank. it’s the chili pepper’s “white” album.

and they’ve done this before. my boxed set of the first three albums is is little mini replica lp sleeves, the disks themselves stylised like the labels on old LPs. i like them as ironic material objects almost as much as I like the music.

instead of elaborately posed art portraits of the band members in various sexydangerousdarkandtricky poses it is 4 dudes sitting in a diner. restrained. here’s my breakout move for the photo - imma make a joke with the ketchup. now come on - we are due back in the studio, eat your sandwich.

highlight: even you brutus - “sister brutus sister judas”, the typecasting of the female in the role of ultimate betrayer, but the occupation of the brother’s space, it’s an inversion, a reversion, a subversion, it’s been done but it will always be redone, sometimes it is done artfully.

it will do nicely

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