Monday, May 25, 2015

Review: Kind of Blah by Frog

Here are some lyrical excerpts from the songs that make up Frog's Kind of Blah:

"Bar moans with calzones and verses from the Rolling Stones" - Wish Upon a Bar

"All dogs go to Heaven, all songs end in quiet refrains, smart moms buy generic, say it tastes the same" - All Dogs Go to Heaven

"Judy Garland hit the bathroom floor of her cold apartment 'bove a Chelsea store and all the drag queens and all the whores couldn't get poor Judy back up off of her laurels" - Judy Garland

Fuckin' poetry, no? If I had written those lines, I would want to make damn sure that everybody could hear them, that my genius was plain to all who listened.

Weirdly, though, that's not what Frog have chosen to do. Their album - Audio Antihero's latest release - has a smoggy, out-of-focus kinda sound, and instead of being pushed right to the forefront for all to admire, those wonderful lyrics are actually pretty low in the mix, frequently getting covered up by the lo-fi, country-tinged rockin':

This approach imbues Kind of Blah (like Kind of Blue, geddit?) with a wonderfully frustrated feeling; it's the sound of an immensely talented NYC beat poet being smothered by the debris and detritus of modern life. Intense emotions and profound revelations are obscured by innumerable references to Disney, to Don Bluth, to Nintendo, to King Kong.

All of which reminds me of a song called We're Here for the Duration (from The Superman Revenge Squad Band's There is Nothing More Frightening Than the Passing of Time, another Audio Antihero gem). Note in particular the line about "Joey from Friends", and how sometimes, it's easier to express how you're feeling with a pop culture reference than with plain ol' words:

Which is perhaps why he ends this song by quoting the chorus from Iron Maiden's Can I Play With Madness.

This observation is very pertinent to Kind of Blah, as is the non-committal vagueness of that title; this is a verbose and brilliant collection of songs, and each one is delivered with a seething, bubbling sense of purpose, and yet there's always the sense that our narrator is never quite able to properly express himself, that the album's deeper truths ultimately go unstated, unable to break out of the suffocating cage that everyday life has built for them.

In other words:
 - Dude, are you OK? How are you feeling?
 - Kind of...blah, y'know?

Kind of Blah is out today! Buy it here.

No comments:

Post a Comment