August 1, 2008

Lambchop: "Nixon"

Lambchop - NixonYour girlfriend of seven years suddenly leaves you one day, and you return to your half-empty apartment to stare at the bright patches of paint on the wall where that mirror, that bookshelf, that night stand used to shield from dust and cigarette smoke, now exposed, vulnerable and alone - much like your own shattered heart; miles and miles away, somewhere south or north or wherever, someone's sobbing over a layoff, a death in the family, a racial injustice, or any number of tragedies plaguing this often-times miserable existence - yet, Nixon is there, shining it's finely-crafted, "tomorrow is on it's way" chamber pop on the melancholy you share with countless other emotionally-afflicted individuals, and when something this unintentionally sweet exists in the same space as your bitter, weathered soul, sweetness wins out, and the healing process begins, one epic note at a time. Lambchop may come off eccentric and ambivalent at first, but these qualities only become more and more custom-tailored to the listener with time and attention, and I do mean attention; there is much to be missed in this cleverly, outwardly subtle record, in just the same way you never realized how much you took your relationship, your job, your loved ones for granted, until they've vanished, forever commited to painful, heart-jabbing memories. The pleasantly-pensive pop of "The Old Gold Shoe" sucks up the silence and the sorrow, hanging like cumulonimbus clouds over our heads, shakes us up a martini, and plants a comforting, unpretentious pat on the back. "Grumpus" allows us a short wallow in our grief, as Kurt preaches, "Part of the process is sifting through the piles of shit", while "You Masculine You" and "Up With People" scream of life's unlimited potential and goodness. Wagner's shrill-whisper of a falsetto offers a laughably realistic view of his own pains - a fresh, contrasting take on the travesty that is love. It's as if he's been here so many times that he's learned his art and tailored his craft through it's grip, effectively satirizing the whole idea of misfortune and loss. This is a record that may take years to experience in it's full glory, as one definitely must face some harrowing tragedy or personal trauma, whatever that may be, to truly understand and identify with the primordial matter the music is created from. One thing is for sure when listening to Nixon: Heartache has never sounded so sweet.
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