It was more fun to name “worst of the year” albums when the music industry actually had a business plan. Now that the behemoths are useless and dumb, there’s no joy in shitting on anything, because nobody seems to be making much money by making records.
But people still need to be warned about certain things, such as quasi-successful New York indie-folk-pop dude Darwin Deez and his album Darwin Deez. I can’t believe I acquired this happy little turd through my own volition; I’m struggling to rationalize the decision. My best explanation: I had not availed myself of MGMT‘s Oracular Spectacular until this year; I came across Deez at roughly the same time that I was listening to MGMT; Deez knows them and kinda has that same weirdo-froofy style that MGMT has. Thus, I have Darwin Deez.
That’s some lame and lazy logic, I know. And hoo-boy did this album upset me instantly. The first words from Deez’s mouth? “Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are/There’s a million little lights when the sky turns black tonight.” The song bops along in its merry, handclappy way, and Deez implies that stars, scars, humanity and freckles share something metaphysical. Didn’t his friends tell him to try harder? I’m sorry if I ever happened to poke fun at obtuse Dischord lyrics.
The rest of the album’s lyrical content, summarized by song title and pivotal line:
“Deep Sea Divers” — “You’re bringin’ me down” “The City” — “Why can’t you call me back?” “DNA” — “I am down to six or seven chromosomes” “The Suicide Song” — “I don’t need a reason why, does anyone?” “Up In The Clouds” — “I’m sorry that I let you down, down to the ground” “Bed Space” — “You don’t sleep here anymore” “The Bomb Song” — “People are sick” “Radar Detector” — “You are always looking out for me” “Bad Day” — “Every day oughta be a bad day for you”
Who’s all grumpy-wumpy? He wrote a songy-wongy! New York sucks! That said, Deez’s music, in its own minimalist way, isn’t offensive. The guitar tunings are curious; the riffs are crisp; the rhythms are pleasantly locked-down. It’s all intriguing enough that I find myself wondering if I should just accept him as some sort of extrapolation of, say, the Pee Wee Herman aesthetic. No, Pee Wee was a character played by a professional actor. Pee Wee was complicated.
Maybe Deez’s tunes are distillations of pop-punk’s eternal-teen mindset? That might be closer to the truth? Hell no, it’s not. Pop-punk dudes tend to be supremely self-aware, even if they’re barely literate. So maybe Deez is making fun of hyperverbal ’90s bands like Cake? Nah, these songs are hardly arch.
See how frustrating this is? It almost has the reverse effect of making me feel sympathetic toward him, because it is possible that he is secretly clever. But I refuse to believe that. In the end, Darwin Deez is a relentlessly harmless cryptohippie. We absolutely do not need any more of those. Kiss my ass, 2010, for bringing this album into my life.