Monday, July 21, 2008

The Fun Years - Baby, It's Cold Inside

The Fun Years
Baby, It’s Cold Inside
(07.2008, Barge)
Verdict = You may need to skip the first 200 words or so before you actually start reading anything resembling a review…

For the record, this is the third time that I have re-written this review. And I’m not talking about my average under-300-words reviews either. I’ve scrapped some pretty lengthy pieces on this thing. “Why all the effort?” you ask? That’s a good question. By now, if you’ve become familiar with us Forest Gosplitarians, you’ll have noticed that we have absolutely no problem publishing a hasty first draft full of descriptive vagaries and scattered with grammatical and spelling errors. To be honest, I can’t promise much more in reference to this review, but the conscious effort with which I attempt to overcome my intrinsic incapacities this time is not a random turn of heart in favor of the dignity of the English language, it’s an impassioned effort to do justice to what may very well be one of the most important records I have heard in years. I apologize for the dramatics. I actually have a well worn list of these important records (I think the last time I mentioned this list was in the review of this band’s previous album; coincidence?). I like to reference them and check on them and relive them over and over in the most respectable fashion possible. It is something of a distressing obsession for those who are most familiar with me, but alas, personal honesty is policy here. OK, I’ll stop trying to delay this: recently I stumbled across an album called Life-Sized Psychoses by The Fun Years, an experimental guitar/ turntable duo. The album was a late, inspired discovery of what is now one of my favourite albums to have been released in 2007 (well documented in both its review and the recent recap of my favourite albums that I missed from last year). So, I was certainly surprised when, after having only had few short months with their Barge debut, I received news from that wonderful label that The Fun Years were already finishing up their follow up titled, Baby, It’s Cold Inside. It snuck up so quick I barely had time to even think, let alone get excited. Well, regardless of the timing of its arrival, consider me completely floored. As hypnotic and pristine as I thought their debut was I would have never imagined that I would be able to, with complete honesty, crown Baby, It’s Cold Inside as such a massive improvement. The reason being, to me, Life-Sized Psychoses stood shoulder to shoulder with peak releases of everyone in the genre from William Basinski to Jan Jelinek to Tim Hecker to, well, everyone (we’re talking experimental ambient here); it’s that good. The difficulty I’m having is explaining why. The inherent vagaries built into minimalistic, drone based music make it hard enough to just describe what it is, let alone to make comparisons and even more, to explain why it is good. Heaven knows there is an immutable sea of ambient drone records out there that are, to put it simply, a waste of time. However, if you compared the description of an album from that middling sea and one from the afore to mentioned masters of the form the report would probably look close to identical and in some cases would only separated by the verdict of whether it was incredible or simply just there. Well, whatever that special ingredient is, The Fun Years have it and they must have used every last drop on Baby, It’s Cold Inside. The building blocks this time around are the same with Ben Recht on guitar and Isaac Sparks on turntables. Together they’ve produced another radiant, waterlogged mirage of warped vinyl and gentle guitars. Perhaps, one subtle difference between Baby, It’s Cold Inside and its predecessor is an injection of more recognizable composition. Undoubtedly, both albums have been meticulously composed, but something about the undercurrent pushing The Fun Years’ new record feels more controlled or mastered and elicits a greater sense of euphoria in its slow variations. And for those foreign to drone music, it’s accessible! This is pop ambience if I’ve ever heard it. There is no greater entry way into the genre if you have been wary of its investments in the past; just beware, you may never find anything this good again once you’ve been initiated. It simply must be heard to be believed; absolutely magical, just listen to the track below...

-Mr. Thistle

The Fun Years - "Auto Show Day of the Dead"


Justin Snow said...

You know you're way ahead of the curve when you review an album 3 weeks before Aquarius Records does.

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