h, the questions that plague men’s minds. What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Where will my next paycheck come from? Will I ever find true love? “Who mistook the steak for chicken/who am I gonna stick my dick in?” Oh yes, it’s a difficult world indeed, and the Moldy Peaches, Adam Green and Kimya Dawson, seem much more at home channeling nostalgic zaniness and pondering the...um, less important things in life.
The pair’s 2001 self-titled debut has been called immature, offensive, worthless, pointless, and engagingly amusing. The hard part about finding a solid opinion about the disk is that, unfortunately, all these words are viable descriptors, often of a single song. In short, it’s a train wreck, through and through. The ‘production’ is low-fi, at the very best. Songs are interrupted by phone calls (“Nothing Came Out”), giggling, and missed cues. Most of it was painfully, obviously recorded in one take, either for the sake of authenticity or because the pizza/weed guy had arrived. The lyrics are juvenile and occasionally ridiculous, the musicianship elementary. There are sloppy, misplaced guitar solos and poorly synchronized duet singing. In truth, it’s horribly unbearable at times.
Why, then, is it not a total failure? Because somewhere, lost in the two-chord progressions and transcendental meanderings on the Thundercats, indie boys, Greyhound busses, porn, and Duran Duran, there is an undeniable charm here. Of course, putrid, obnoxious songs like “Downloading Porn with Davo,” “What Went Wrong,” and “Who’s Got the Crack” are difficult listens for even the most accepting listener. But get past those earsores and there is a wealth of catchy, innocent gems here, even if they’re not lyrically or musically profound. Opener “Lucky #9” is a moody, straight-forward acoustic pop song, and is one of the few places where the pair competently trade off vocals (bonus points for the line “Blood Mary, Mother of God”). “Jorge Regula” is a simple acoustic rumination on some guy named Jorge Regula....he walks down the street and wears a yellow shirt. Even though the near-perfect country-pop love tune “Anyone Else But You” is all but ruined by the word “turd” near the end, the sentiment is otherwise clean, the melody is gorgeous, and it provides the code for 30 extra lives in Contra (as if anyone who would listen to this CD didn‘t already know it). All told, more than half of the album’s 19 tracks are both listenable and enjoyable, if not especially bursting with talent or maturity.
Still, the album receives downright hatred from the music snobs of the world, for reasons both understandable and validated. But if any other band put these songs on a B-sides compilation, EP, or some set of demos, they’d probably get some props for being passable, quirky little side-tracks. But as a debut, it leaves much to be desired...like an ear for when a second take or a verse re-write might be in order. However, this may all come in time, and with the gift for melody and the off-kilter sensibility that Green and Dawson have, a little production help and firm guidance might birth something that even jaded music fans could appreciate.“Who mistook the crap for genius?” No one yet, you weird little fucks. But this shit’s not that bad.
Reviewed by: Steve Lichtenstein
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01