Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ween, La Cucaracha (Novemeber 2007)

Most musician-comedians are just that; musicians that happen to be funny (e.g. the Violent Femmes) or comedians that are musically inclined (e.g. Stephen Lynch).

Ween is one of those rare bands that jettisons those limitations. A genuinely alt-rock band that formed in the 80s, they integrate comedy and music fluidly, without getting the feeling that the music is a vehicle for their comedy (or vica versa).

The corollary to their original approach is their wild eclecticism. On La Cucaracha Ween effortlessly leap from country jams to Elton John ballads, prog rock to smooth jazz.

“Friends” is a faux-synth ditty that brilliantly captures the lyrical vacuousness of moronic dance club music not by aggressively satirizing it but by merely repeating lyrics you would hear on any DJ Sammy album (Examples include: "A friend is a friend who knows what being a friend is" and "Friends in life are special/ Do you want me as your special friend?").

The heavy metal song "My Own Bare Hands" reaches Spinal Tap heights of idiocy using the same template as "Friends" with a minor alteration: making the dumb a little dumber. (Fred Durst-like poetry include "She's gonna be my cock professor studying my dick/ She's gonna get her master's degree in fucking me.”)

“Spirit Walker” is the best prog-rock joke since Kiss recorded a concept album. The song is a hilariously affected sci-fi parable about finding emotional connection with a robot. Like many other songs throughout the album the music itself is integral to the humor, with the muted noises of space equipment complementing the hackneyed, grandiose lyrics.

“Your Party”, the last song on the album, employs the same techniques. The natural apogee to La Cucaracha, an exaggerated synth-sax wails in the background while an aging yuppie lists a series of bland anecdotes about the cocktail party he attended.

The song encapsulates the genius of Ween: the lack of hyperbole in their parody, acutely subtle observations that refreshingly skewer bad genres, and music that creates humor itself.

No comments: