Meh. Everyone’s favourite Beck impersonator Will Toledo returns with this, the twelfth (twelfth!) album. A supposedly more “experimental” venture, alongside fellow bandmate Andrew Katz, and guests including Ethan Ives and Seth Dalby, it uses… wait for it… electronics (no, really, programmed drums and everything!!!) and was seemingly inspired by LCD Soundsystem and Radiohead, along with their usual brand of lo-fi fuzzy indie.
Opener Weightlifters‘ wobbly keyboards set out its musical stall here. It’s a siren which screams out to listen up, and pay attention. We’ve got SHIT to say, it yelps. SHIT about the WORLD, man, and its nefarious leaders, in all their narcissistic glory. It posits a gnawing dissatisfaction with the status quo (not the band, if fucking only) and, like, STUFF, ya know?
Like Hollywood, the gnarly guitar anthem. Toledo grizzles, “Everyone is an artist, but no-one has the time”, a sentiment designed to incur a lot of head nodding and wry smiles as sorrows are drowned and tools and beers downed. Except, people do have time now that we’re in lockdown. If this was intended more as a general statement about creative apathy, why is it so forgettable? He comes across like Beavis, the original non-thinking man’s incel, screaming, “I’m never gonna score! It sucks!”
Two sister tracks, Deadlines explore two diametrically opposed moods, Hostile and Thoughtful, respectively, and are downbeat on the verse, marginally less downbeat on the chorus.
Only Can’t Cool Me Down comes close to being interesting, with its cute little xylophone riff and electronic riposte to the special patented Toledo drawl.
Sadly, it mostly feels phoned in, the kind of thing they can do – and have done – in their sleep, and the overarching sense is but a single shoulder shrug. Life is too short to listen to adolescent posturing when it’s as directionless as this. Like punk without the energy, and garage without the drive, it’s barely enough to divert. Meh.