Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Faulty Chromosome

Craving To Be Coddled So We Feel Fake-Safe... (Yelping Hill, 2010)

For: Dan Deacon, Fiery Furnaces, Grandaddy

Byline: Hate your job? A Faulty Chromosome hates your job too.

Here’s what I’d love to do: I’d love to just gush about A Faulty Chromosome’s brilliantly twisted pop songs. The ingenious production work that disguises the band’s music as lo-fi. I could talk all day about how the songs are just so smart. And how they are so much fun. How great it feels to hear a standard pop feel filtered through drunk goggles, like woozy doo-wop all high on ether. I love the glitchy beats, I love the tornadoes of noise that under-lace the entirety of the album, I love the samples, the quick-witted lyrics that bounce back and forth like ping pong balls... I’d love to let the whole blogospheric space-time continuum know about how I love just about everything on this record.

But I’d risk missing the point, and I’d risk not letting you fine folks know the real reason I think this record is worth checking out. It wouldn’t do the project justice. Here we go...

Craving to be Coddled So We Feel Fake-Safe comes with a comic book. You can download the entire record via the link below as well as the PDF version of the book you can print out or read on your screen. Don’t - I repeat - do NOT attempt to enjoy this album without downloading the PDF and reading it through. First of all, it’s full of awesome and weird drawings of grotesquely mutilated mutants and song lyrics. More important, however, is the personal essay to be found toward the end of the book. If you missed the concept of the album from just listening to it, this testimonial may shed some valuable light onto A Faulty Chromosome’s not-so-hidden agenda. Mastermind Eric Dalke is basically pouring his heart out in this record. He’s fed up with society, he’s fed up with the money system, and fed up with being constantly in debt. He’s fed up with capitalism, communism, socialism... politics in general and, oh yes, religion too. He’s tired of being lied to and he’s tired of hiding what he feels is the truth. The true truth. His idea is that you are fed up too, but you may have not realized it yet. If you hate your job, go in each and every day despite that inconvenient fact, and can’t really figure out why you’re doing it - what exactly you’re contributing to the “greater good,” and maybe can’t even seem to find a “greater good” anywhere around you at all, then Craving to be Coddled might just be your wake-up call. Ever feel helpless at work? Like your day job is slowly killing you, and there’s nothing you can really do about it? Ever feel bad for feeling like this? It’s tough out there, and it’s scary as hell. A Faulty Chromosome is hear to let you know: You’re not alone.

But probably the most surprising tactic used to convey this message is that the record is delivered through the eyes of an elementary school child. The album uses samples to define the perspective - a softball bat’s swinging, a sprinkler system’s sprinkling, patty-cake rhymes, vintage 50s-sitcom parent/child exchanges and even the sound of Mario flying from Super Mario 3. There’s no questioning that the entirety of the record puts the listener in that state of nostalgia for innocence. The question is, why? If such a thesis about our society is truly as important as Dalke says it is (over and over), why would he have a child deliver it? After all, kids say the darndest things, don’t they? Kids are this and nothing more: cute, silly, kinda dumb, innocent, don’t know any better, and generally harmless. *Ahem...

Mr. Dalke’s mission is to expose this perception as fallacy. When a child questions something, sees something is wrong and raises a flag, they aren’t asking the question simply because they don’t understand the way things really are. Dalke's point seems to be that a child’s concern is actually more valid than a grown-up’s (these folks are cleverly referred to as “groan-ups” throughout the album). Adults have been lied to their whole lives and are therefore conditioned to lies as being truth. For Dalke, the need for everyone to re-discover themselves back at an age of moral purity is an essential component to the wake-up call. People have gradually come to mistake legitimate fears for harmless self-inflicted worries, resulting only in a motivation to submit further to the system (Money troubles? Get another job) that is causing such a catastrophic downward spiral of humanity. The key to getting yourself out is to unlearn these supposed truths and start questioning what is commonly recognized as fundamental, normal human behavior again. It’s that foundational. It's that radical. Quite honestly, this is heavy stuff.

A Faulty Chromosome gives a powerfully artistic rendering to the woes of today’s current social state in a brutally honest, up-front, and open sort of way. Here's the good part: it’s not just angry, pissed off doom’n’gloom here - positivity simply radiates from these sun-streaked melodies and toe-tappin’ grooves in ways that are much more welcoming and uplifting than they are damning, dread-inducing or exclusive. A Faulty Chromosome’s not blaming us for living the way we do, for they live it too - the band’s had to fight an insanely steep uphill battle of debt just to get this very album released in physical format. A Faulty Chromosome relates to its listeners on a personal level, tapping into that inner-child in all of us who’s known things were bad all along, but has suppressed those notions with cliches like “It’ll get better - it always does.”

If the album has a flaw, it’s that it might be too good for its own good. That is, there just ain’t a dud on the whole darned thing - Craving to be Coddled is a tightly wound, focused, clear, and concise record that is sometimes beautiful, often brilliant, and is wildly challenging. It's also tons of fun and downright accessible. But I haven’t read a lot of reviews (if any) that have even touched on what the majority of my review has discussed here... so maybe their music is overshadowing the message? Whatever, A Faulty Chromosome. You don’t have to apologize for making great music. Just keep hammering away until the missive hits home. You’ve certainly got my attention.

--Craw'z 3/1/2010

Free Download of Craving to be Coddled So We Feel Fake-Safe...

Free Download of Comic Book / Liner-Notes to Craving to be Coddled

p.s. - Kudos to A Faulty Chromosome for their well-devised campaign to get this record out through their program, and even more kudos to the folks who made possible this record’s physical release by donating. The album’s been digitally available since October/November of last year, but we here at the TOME were just notified of its physical release a short while ago. Needless to say, I’m stoked as all get out to grab me a handfull o’ that vinyl lovin’ on this one, and also (maybe this goes without saying), just so we're clear, Craving to be Coddled is way in contention for my best of 2010 list.


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