Thursday, August 01, 2019

The Paranoid Style - A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life (Bar/None, 2019)

The Paranoid Style present some of the wittiest lyrics in music today, not really surprising considering that they are named after a famous article from Harper's in 1964 entitled “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” Led by the wife and husband duo of Elizabeth Nelson Bracy and and Timothy Bracy, their band of fast paced rock and roll music welded to tumbling and cascading wordplay works particularly well and despite some heady subjects it never comes out as stilted or pretentious, just good old rock and roll that just happens to make you think about the state of the world. The opening “Turpitude” mines some rockabilly, with a strong propulsive beat and lyrics that are a mash up of pseudo biographical memories and name checking music and political figures like Mojo Nixon and Leon Trotsky. There is a thoughtful look into history on “A Marked Man on a Marked Man Occasion” carried forth by a blasting rock and roll backdrop for a song about the Easter rebellion in Ireland in 1916, the guitars echoing the pulverizing violence and the resulting crackdown. “Murder: The Experience” rolls in mid story with the protagonist on trial, moving into what seems like a take down of the genre of true true crime with its endless podcasts and TV reenactments. And the fiery, bright rock and roll guitars enigmatic meaning “An Endless Cycle of Meaningless Behavior” are a genuine hoot to listen to as blasting blasting guitar bass and drums frame pouting ennui, recalling Alan Greenspan years at Julliard playing clarinet and saxophone with Stan Getz and even working in a wink toward The Jam mentioning All Mod Cons as the words and guitars go hurtling by at warp speed, before giving the boot to Ayn Rand and her objectivist nonsense. Taking the musical focus to its logical conclusion, “The Peculiar Case of the Human Song Generators” moves into hardcore territory with the words lost in the pile driving music which sends everything hurtling relentlessly forward, go faster and faster and all subtlety is lost amid the tumult.  The centerpiece of the album is the title track, “A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life,” which recalls a concert by The Who in Cincinnati, which resulted in a massacre of eleven patrons, killed in a scrum for general admittance seats, with the band not told until after the show. She raises other trial balloons about the rock and roll lifestyle adding in Neil Young at the Last Waltz and quoting "Tired Eyes" then using slower music to showcase the words and the hinting at lyrics of songs by The Who and other bands. All of these songs blaze by in a svelte thirty minutes, giving you the feeling of standing on a train platform as the express barrels down the track toward its next stop. Both the music and the lyrics are uniformly excellent on this album, and pure rockers will have a blast turning up the raucous guitar, bass and drums with splashes of organ, while  history trainspotters will have a ball picking out all of the references to famous or infamous musicians and dignitaries. A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life -

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