September 2, 2008

Quasi: "Field Studies".

We've all attempted to outsmart inhibition and inadequacy with optimism and cheerful sarcasm, the forced smile in the face of the drunken, abusive father that life, more often than not, arrives home late to become. Every single one of us knows everything there is to know about rejection and heartache, and the human propensity towards the apathetic disdain that inevitably stems from an over abundance of it, in our own lives; Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss (crazed, villainous keyboardist, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, and Sleater-Kinney drummer-girl extraordinaire, respectively) have simply put it to music, in the unpredictable form of overdriven organ pop, sounding something akin to Brian Wilson's funeral procession along Redondo Beach one beautiful SoCal afternoon. Instead of sitting around in their bedroom gaining weight and getting blown, Quasi crafts an album of sunshine indie pop that calibrates the next generation of hedonistic social inepts against Wilson's formulaically-tormented soul, preserving the obfuscation of psychiatric evaluation on into the new millennium.

What is most disconcertingly unclear is just how much of the content and subject matter of Sam and Janet's smiley-dirges is harbored as truth within their own devilishly ambivalent minds and how much is meant only for a quick laugh in the face of misfortune (one is almost always inclined to believe the latter, and in that case the album is brilliant and powerful). As is at once perceivable in the opening track to 1999's Field Studies, "All The Same" offers Quasi's jaded pop in abundance, as Sam sings "I'm not going to give it up for free anymore, and I don't really care if you label me a whore", setting the stage quite well for the nearly-disgruntled tunes to follow; "The Golden Egg", "The Star You Left Behind" and "A Fable With No Moral", among many others. "Under A Cloud" is one of the best examples of Quasi's true talent when it comes to song crafting and infectious hooks, and "It Don't Mean Nothing" is unoubtedly Field Studies' "Ape Self Prevails In Me Still" (off 1998's Featuring "Birds"). Needless to say, whether you're an indie hipster or Beach Boys aficionado, or both, you'll only benefit from owning a copy of Field Studies.

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