Monday, October 25, 2010
Two Bullets: Spookyland
SpookyLand - Killin' One Bird With Two Stones (EP) by showoffservices
Remember that kid in high school who had no friends and spent all of their time learning how to play Bob Dylan songs in a vain effort to try and impress people into liking them? While I can't say with any certainty that Spookyland was that kid, I'm pretty confident that statement doesn't fall far from the mark.
Let me first say that Spookyland is a solo project. A nineteen year old named Marcus Gordon writes and performs everything himself, and honestly shows quite a talent for crafting pretty pop songs. Aside from the highly derivative nature of the music, the naive lyrics and his painfully whiny signing voice, Gordon obviously has talent. The sad fact is though that having lacked a band to bounce ideas off what he has delivered is a sort of worst of both worlds EP that manages to be both incredibly self-indulgent and pathetically subservient to popular trends.
Titled the Killin' One Bird With Two Stones EP, Spookyland's debut offering is yet another worrying blemish on the rash covered and diseased flesh of modern music. Much like contemporaries such as Operator Please or Tom Ugly (about whom the less is said the better) there is an abundance of talent unfortunately caught up in a lack of taste. It just sounds like someone eager for fame and attention who mastered standard pop and blues structures and never looked back. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, look at Jack White, what makes it bad in this case is that there is a marked lack of conviction in the songs, a sense that everything is being dressed up to seem more interesting and edgy while lacking any substance under the clothes, glitter and face-paint.
Everything sounds too washed out and drenched in reverb, which matched with how overly obtuse the lyrics are at times makes it all sounds pretty fucking pathetic. When he's not spouting some nonsense along the line's of 'her eyes are like the spinning bodies of a world celestial, and I alone, anxious and fear prone gather my power bestial' (note: I just made that up) he's way too literal, singing about winning a girl a toy at the fair or throwing rocks at her window. These last lyrics are later proven to be all part of a cunning attempt at leading you to think one way, before Gordon twists your perspective at the end, an interesting choice that is unfortunately carried out with the subtlety of a back alley abortion. Like everything on this album, there are good ideas, they are all just executed poorly.
To cap it all off though his voice is just so annoying. It sounds like a year or two of making 16 year old girls croon with his whiny nonsense has led him to believe sounding like Bob Dylan before his testicles descended is a good vocal style. In reality it's both unoriginal and self harm inducingly difficult to listen to.
His press release which you can read here is full of overly literary and facile bullshit. It reads like the opening chapter of some bad choose your own adventure fantasy serial, and doesn't tell you anything about the artist other than he must be a pretentious cunt if he thought this sort of nonsense was a good way to present himself as an artist.
Really Gordon just needs a few more years to experiment, after all at 19 years of age, it's understandable his music lacks the sense of complexity it pretends to hold. The fault here doesn't land with Gordon in the end, at least not all of it, but at the feet of those predatory industry types who have heard his music, thought 'yeah young girls will cream their panties over this,' and then signed him. I don't mean to say it's intentional on their part either, they probably generally like the music, as I'm sure many others will. What's happened here is what happens all too often in the industry nowadays. An artist, with all the right influences and the right look has been picked as a cash cow. There may be some short lived fame in store for him, and if he puts his head down and really works on expanding his musical vocabulary maybe even some degree of longevity, but in the long run his music will be tossed amongst the already towering pile of disposable indie-pop that clogs up our airwaves and web pages, another slice of crap lacking any meaning after the first few listens.
It's a shame to see another semi-talented artist get sucked into the ego stroking and mythology rife industry of manufacturing indie-pop idols, but it's their own fault. If it's fame you seek, it will be fame you will find, but for how long and on what terms is decided by each artists willingness to put in the hard work rather than outsource it to the ravenous wolves of the music industry.
Two Bullets to the back of the head for Gordon and those cruelly ignorant industry fools who have built him up for an inevitable fall.