Skeletons and the Girl-Faced Boys
istracted and crippled by modernity, Skeletons and the Girl-Faced Boys want to soundtrack your coma daydreams. They make Chaplin pop for the Wasabi era—eyes twitching in mercurial swirls of neon street-signs, flashing abundances, and crude techno-glamour. Skewed and schizophrenic, the band revels in absurdity and whimsical rhythmic crossroads. Join in their star-burned messages to alien audio-patterns and Kubrickian moonscapes and you might just put that Maximo Park record behind you forever.
An ensemble of sorts formed from the variegated tastes of the Shinkoyo label—run by the collective’s founding member, Matt Mehlan—Skeletons and the Girl-Faced Boys have now joined hands with Ghostly International for this collaborative effort. Following earlier well-received but often indistinctive efforts like Life and the Afterbirth and I’m at the Top of the World, Git is the band’s fourth record, and first with the aid of Ghostly’s larger fan-base. Given the leap, and the intrinsic added pressure of the jump to, by indie standards, the almost unassailable Ghostly, Git is a remarkably impressive effort, and marks the band’s first claims to catatonic genius.
Scissoring through crack-limbed jams and otherworldly soundscapes, Git is not an easy listen. Make no mistake; this is not pop music a la the Shins. The band disorients as much as it charms, blending cacophonous ambient sounds with jarring cricket-voiced alarums. Wolves bark in the murk, and vague black-lagoon noises sludge through the mix, lending the album a sound as bewitching as it is compelling. Long stretches of pleading vocals tangle with simple piano chords, repeated until the listener seems to compress himself inside these sounds. Jaded horn choruses leap up out of the glam and begin swelling Super_Collider-esque funk jams without a moment’s notice. Fragments of pop are overwhelmed by a pressing desire to fuck it all up again and start anew, and just as surely entrancing pop-gems bulge from the other side of the spew. Synths, discordant jungle rhythms, pianos, and plenty of space-flight noises are tossed across jerky, uncomfortable choruses made of jarring sentiments like “We won’t be proud / We’ll just think you’re an idiot” and “If you really knew the answer / You wouldn’t brag about it so much.”
An album of parts and stretches, Git is at its best when it allows itself loose rein: “Y’All Thinks It’s Soo Easy” is charged World-Beat funk—percussive head-phunk and escapism—while the title track cuts sunny electro-soul through a thistle of electronic percussion and Fear of Music-era guitar runs. “There’s a Fly In Your Soup (And I Put it There)” is sheer ambient artistry, humming across whispered sounds and vocal parts run through the Space Odyssey-dial.
Like most great full-lengths, Git knows when to recline and when to stand. The screeching synths and bulging trombones of “There are Seagulls Who Live in Parking Lots” cool off “Y’All Thinks”’s smooth soul, and are in turn over-run by the clomping percussion and rough-necked noise of “You’da Been Better Off If.” Beats and white noise are tempered by jaded eccentro-pop, and even-toned passages are quickly ravaged by anarchy again. As Mehlan sings on “Y’All Thinks,” “If you’ve got a small voice / Speak up or grow taller.” On Git, Mehlan heeds his own hummingbird-voiced advice, and the band responds in kind. It may not be the ideal barbecue-starter, unless your friends are jaundiced and altogether cracked, but you’d do well to put it on when the lights go out and the night sinks into the surreal.
STYLUSMAGAZINE.COM’S ALBUM OF THE WEEK: JUNE 27 – JULY 3, 2005