The Phenomenological Boys
Last year, I heard Thought For Food by The Books and it pretty much blew me away. It was one of those little releases out of nowhere that surprised the heck out of me and still finds regular rotation in my CD player. When things like that happen, I cross-reference label releases, and The Phenomenological Boys are another group on the label. After seeing the exploding dog-inspired cover art, I had high hopes.
Unfortunately, it only took about half an album for those hopes to be dashed against the rocks, and the second half of the album to solidify those feelings. An 18 track album comprised of full-on tracks and lots of shorter little interludes that fall between tracks, this album runs under 40 minutes in length, but actually feels a great deal longer. Imagine a couple of Ween-inspired kids sitting around with some old records when they suddenly decide to conceive their own disc of bizarro-sketches.
The beginning of the album actually starts out with some promise. The first track "intro," runs just under a minute but mashes all kinds of random bits of sound together into something downright catchy and fun. The first true real track of "He's So Dumb" mixes late 60's kitsch with some sophomoric lyrics, but the goofy pose of it all actually makes it come off as one of the better tracks on the disc. From there, it's into another 10 second interlude (which is great, by the way), before launching into "Everything's Got A Shade Of Green," which mixes rinky-dink keyboard melodies with blips and bleeps and a sort of helium-sucking beach-party bingo theme. It's endearing enough, but then you realize that the extent of musical ideas have been pretty much exhausted once the disc keeps spinning.
"The Invented Part Of The World" clocks in at almost 5 minutes, but like the overall album running length, it actually feels much longer, mixing pitch-bent keyboard melodies and broke-ass programmed beats under more of those helium vocals so high in the mix. "What Do You Take Me For" takes a slightly different route (unintelligible lyrics over a mix that sounds like it was made on an analogue answering machine cassette tape) in reaching the same destination, while "Let's Get Rid Of Richard" is so juvenile it goes on for too long at just over a minute. Although the hilarious "The Anti-Beard Song (Go Go Goatee)" (as well as some of the great interludes) provides a brief moment of goofy and endearing respite later in the disc, it's too little too late. I really wanted to like this record, and I'll still keep an eye on Tomlab, but this is one release to steer clear of.