The Fun Years :: Life-Sized Psychosis (Barge, CD)

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(09.16.07) Oddly enough, The Fun Years’ Life-Sized Psychosis somehow manages to mimic the train I’m on while I write this. I hear echoes. I could talk about equipment, but frankly I don’t know enough about these specific equipments to give ’em snark or praise about the lack of integrity or innovation in their delay pedal, thus perpetuating that interminable pissing contest that values novelty over nuance. So, all I can really talk about is the fun I’m having during these fun years.

So, we have a cacophony of voices: Highs –not screeching, but soft tonal-feedback gently establishes notes in the scale. Mids –acoustic guitar melody repeats and repeats. Bass –static rumble fills out the rest of the available harmonic frequencies. Melody –random noises and bursts, a quiet chorus of glitch with occasional pops.

But keep in mind that it’s all very soothing. Not in the ambient/trance/(we’re trying to blow your mind)-kind of way, but the combination of these elements produces the elusive drone (repetitive build-up of timbre, dynamics, texture) that post-rock artists tend to seek and for good reason! (An earlier The Fun Years album is titled Now That’s What I call Drone, Volume 4, not surprisingly). A rich and compelling drone is not easy to create for anyone, let alone economically disadvantaged youngsters who are forced to abandon the shiny delicacies of Guitar Center in favor of much cheaper (but much hipper) tape recorders, an undoubtedly chaotic mesh of interwoven cords+mixers+wires+personal computers, and other various, maybe even homemade electro-devices. And of course, let’s not forget the electric, acoustic, and bass guitars (mashed-up into a baritone guitar by Ben Recht), an old organ, Roland D-10 maybe, a turntable (allmusic.com calls Isaac Sparks a turntablist), drums, and other rock stuffs. For this is indeed post-rock, which likes to take all of the post-punk/alternative rock instruments and structural elements that it (post-rock) [I’m personifying a concept!] grew up listening to and then chew them up and spit them back out in a way that can only be signified by the “post” prefix. Right? In an earlier Igloo review I wondered whether Post Toasties marked a simultaneous departure from and innovation of the classic Toasties from a by-gone era.

It was a joke.

So now I’m knee deep in track four, after track three gave me a somewhat interesting reprise of track one. I’m not entirely sure what happened to track two. I think that track one was just too long, so they chopped it in two, not wanting to lose the momentum of the aforementioned drone. The drone which changes slightly at track three into… well… more glitchy, staticy-tape-recorder-sample-based drone. But it’s still really good drone.

Look, it would too easy to call this album boring. It’s not! Maybe it’s a response to more interesting albums (har har). It drones beautifully, The Fun Years is a richly layered meditation on static, noise, glitch, post-glitch, and of course distorted guitars. Ooooh, but here in track four it starts to get really beautiful. Thank god Brian Eno influenced everyone to compliment whatever music they were creating with beautiful, angelic pad sounds like in the beginning of “Where the Streets Have No Name.” From the inclusion of these pad sounds, I deduce that The Fun Years truly wants to “tear down the walls” that hold them inside. I would even argue that they want to “reach out and touch the flame”, but do they actually do it on this album? I’m not sure. I mean, I love the noises, I love the drone, I find it very soothing, fun, compelling to listen to (their drone really doesn’t even get boring), which means that this is chock full of great ideas and tasteful engineering; but I’m not sure that I hear and feel you, my fun year friends. I want to bask in the glorious sweetness of your hearts and souls, drink your blood, experience your special times, recognize your life which is like my own so then I can feel more alive and less alone, right? Otherwise, what’s the fucking point of this mechanism that delivers albums to me and reviews to you, dear artists and readers?

Life-Sized Psychosis is out now on Barge. [Purchase]

  • Barge
  • The Fun Years
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