It’s the Ones Who’ve Cracked that the Light Shines Through
I remember being no older than twelve when I read the trade paperback of The Watchmen, on which Jeffrey Lewis wrote his literature thesis. It was entirely troubling, to the point where I knew it was intelligent, but that it still made me feel sick to my stomach. No matter how many times I thumbed through my collection and pondered lifting it out of its alphabetical niche, I would set it back sharply and let out a small shudder from the amoral acts depicted within.
Comic book creator and Moldy Peaches comrade Jeffrey Lewis creates a similar feeling in his sophomore album. His anti-folk narratives pinch many frightened nerves and repressed debasements. Even with elements of viola, tamboura, and obvious wit, this is the opposite of "music," inasmuch as it makes my blood curl.
"Back When I Was 4" recalls a bit of the Mountain Goats and (Smog), but is almost purposely off-key and out of tune as it sets the tone for his other coloring book nightmares. The fact that it is amateurish – childish – instills more of its dark potency. Some tracks, like "Alphabet", are almost musically unlistenable, but the monotone of his broken story cannot be put back into a neat or quieted place. Even cuts like "Don’t Let the Record Label Take You Out to Lunch," which feature recognizable acoustics, move with such a fast and jarring lyrical pace that they shake long-standing foundations. It is in this realization that Lewis has made his remarkable point, that "disturbing" and "moving" are two sides of the same coin. I am as much frightened as I am humbled: The Ones Who’ve Cracked tells a story that I don’t want to hear, but in truth, it does well by making me rethink my complacency.
Lost at Sea