So I’ve spent a couple weeks listening to this album and my general opinion of it hasn’t really changed. This either means my first thoughts are quite honed and incisive or I’m pigheaded. The latter is probably closer to the truth. In any case, I still have a few quibbles.
Firstly, I think the sequencing of songs on the album creates a real trough with songs 2-7. Not that they aren’t good songs, they are all actually quite nice, even the one with the violins and Chris Elliott samples is ok. I do feel like it comes close to sucking the life out of the album with such a sustained level of mellow. However, these guys have sold many more albums in their lives than I have so I would guess I’m in the minority. It slows up a bit after “Holy Calamity” also but it doesn’t feel as much of a lull for some reason.
I also thought the record could have been a bit more concise. I’m not positive if labels like to put pressure on artists to fill up an entire cd but it does seem as if they usually pad the album out at the expense of making a tighter artistic statement.
I do find it interesting that I could find no live footage of them performing and almost no biographical info. It isn’t that they were just a studio concept one-off project, I have found live stills of them. This is a big positive for me though. Any artistic venture that doesn’t seek to explain itself is always infinitely more interesting than one that does. Anyone who has ever been to an art opening with an explanatory statement by the artist is well acquainted with how quickly over-explaining something can take all the impact out of something. Handsome Boy Modeling School achieves the opposite of this. Whether this silence is just a coincidence or by design doesn’t matter much. I think one of the best things any artist can do is to confuse their audience. I know this sounds glib and snobby but I truly hate to get exactly what I expect out of artists.
One part I will reiterate has to do with reception. In a previous post I said that I didn’t think this album would fly on the radio. I believe this now more than previously. Commercial radio relies on easy categorizations and I just don’t think they would have a clue as to where to put this album. Not that there aren’t plenty of tracks that seem to be of high enough quality and of wide enough appeal to merit airplay, I just think the project itself doesn’t fit an easy narrative. Media like radio and television are often reluctant to promote art or artists that require much effort to digest.
Final rating: Somewhere between 4 and 4.5