Friday, May 22, 2015

where is my spaceship - mostly crocodile Review

Mostly crocodile is an arduous listen, but in the best of ways. It's like watching a train careen off the rails. Like witnessing a toxic emotional breakdown. Where is my spaceship is the brainchild of Josh Evensen. Evensen lays it all out there for everyone to hear, and his ability to be so transparent is admirable. Mostly crocodile is thirty-five minutes of visceral bloodletting that tackles insecurity, denial, and self-loathing.

The band mixes the brash ambitious punk of Titus Andronicus, the lyrical wit of The Front Bottoms, and the pained vocal delivery of Conor Oberst. The combination equates to a revealing, smart, and cathartic punk-rock record.

The album opens up charging with, "snake juice anthem". The track pulls no punches with a direct chainsawed guitar attack and Evensen’s desperate cries as he’s willing to take whatever means necessary to kill the brain cells that "haven’t done [him] any good lately". Maybe then he can drown the cavalcade of emotions that prevent him from being society's view of an ideal human being.

Insecurity immediately takes hold on the following track, "red shirt". Here, Evensen’s unable to comprehend how a potential lover could possibly have any interest in someone as average as himself. He tells them, "you deserve a Superman" and matter-a-factly follows with, "I’m just a guy in a red shirt". The pain of his destructive self image is amplified when paired with the song's drawled guitar riff.

Denial then becomes a prevalent theme. On the track, "sad songs all night", where is my spaceship brings forth a subdued guitar with punchy drums to lay the foundation for Evensen to affirm that he’s above sleep, getting lonely and giving a damn. As the song pushes towards its towering conclusion, trumpets flare to the forefront to signal a victory as Evensen passionately declares, "I don’t care about you", however, the torment in his voice says otherwise.

Later in the album, the theme of denial is lightly touched once again as Evensen begins justifying a mundane office job by the things it can afford him, most importantly, beer, taco bell, and cigarettes. The track is delivered with a sludgy staccato guitar and fluttering taps of the xylophone; the song wouldn't sound out of place on Radiohead's OK Computer. The somber tone drives home the age-old adage that money can’t buy you happiness.

One of the record's highlights, and one that veers from the album's introspection is the fifth track, "it won’t be forever". It’s a strangely satisfying story about a girl named Maybel who's employed at a butcher. Upon starting her job, the natural carnage of the work becomes overwhelming, but Evensen comforts Maybel by telling her, "hey, you’re OK, it won’t be forever". However, it turns out, the repetition of the job becomes soothing as Maybel not only can handle her position, but, "likes the sound the cleaver makes". The song opens with a chugging bass line and then moves into a more forward alt-rock piece. The track ultimately comes to a conclusion with crashing drums and rhythm guitar backed by a dancing lead to bring resolve to the discomforting tale.

Mostly crocodile is the epitome of therapy through catharsis. It's a brilliant record in which Evensen lays himself bare for all to see, and the result is spectacularly impactful. It's refreshing to hear a record that tackles emotions more complex than love and heartbreak. It's raw, biting and ambitious in a way that more punk records should be. It's clear no emotion or feeling was restricted when laying down this album. 

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