Song is brilliant! Abso-fucking-lutely brilliant! Stunning, drone-oriented atmospherics vaguely in the form of a darker Lambchop!
For 2 minutes and 52 seconds. Then he starts singing, and it's over.
Generally speaking, I'm not the minion who's going to be complaining about the lyrics. That's sort of PostLibyan's gig, really. I like lyrics and singing and pop songs. But man, this is just wrong. It might not be so bad if
But the intro phrasing of Expand, Contract is, in fact, excruciatingly beautiful. And the lyrics are, in fact, abominably bad.
- the first two and a half minutes of intro music to Expand, Contract weren't so excruciatingly beautiful, or
- the lyrics weren't so abominably bad.
Firstly the guy (Ted Stevens) just doesn't sing that well. It's not like he's got this incredible voice that must be heard. He's got a slightly off-key baritone with poor breath phraseology. There's just no good reason to dump it onto the extraordinary stream of music that the other members of the band are creating. None.
Secondly, there's the abysmally bad quality of the lyrical verse itself. I would flunk entering freshmen if they submitted something like this as "poetry". An example (written as it is in the liner notes, to give you a better reading of it all):
I can't even tell you what is real
Apples & oranges
And so on and so forth. Or, from the pretentiously named Inherent Song:
Can one articulate such rage
As loudspeaker flailing
Distress and foreboding.
The building is burning
And a dog is barking at an ambulance passing.
Dear god, did someone really submit that shit for public consumption!?! Egad! It's not bad enough that he didn't throw his middle school verse away when he graduated, he actually had to publish it!
And then there's the name of the band, "Lullaby for the Working Class." What does that mean? I don't think there's a member of the working class within a fallow Nebraskan hey-field of this fucking band. The working class would put a size 11 work boot up this guy's ass so far he'd be untying laces just to brush his teeth.
I'm having a really difficult time articulating my distaste for this disc, actually. On the one hand, the art-school critic in me despises the ego of the guy (Ted Stevens) that had to ruin such a possibility (the band behind him, an eclectic blend of pedal steel, ebow, hammered dulcimer, banjo, vibraphone, upright bass, piano, violins, cellos, bass clarinet, accordion and guitar in the spirit of Lambchop is actually very, very good.) But at the same time there's the indigenous working class schmoe from the hinterlands of South Georgia who is absolutely appalled that this guy is associating his community college art-degree ass with people who actually sweat for a living.
The lasting impression I get from this record is that of a vanity project for the guy who sat next to you in Freshman Composition, telling everyone within earshot of how artistic and meaningful his tortured soul actually was. I fucking hated that guy. And I hate this guy, because he belies himself, baring to the world his absolute lack of artistic ear, with the fact that he would ruin such a pristine sound as the first 2:52 of this record.
I would actually give this disc 0 damned sponges. I'm too damned pissed at this guy for him to register even on the lowest end of the quality scale. I would, but we spent a lot of time on the whole sponge-scale thing (see the FAQ) so I'm not going to ignore it completely. One day I'm going to buy some really good music manipulation software and strip this bastardization of the English tongue off of the rest of the sound, just to see if it maintains it's power despite Ted fucking Stevens.