Sunday, January 20, 2008

a little mess by elias & the wizzkids

You know the scene. Hanging out with your friends, passively watching a band –- who, the second they stop playing, will spend the rest of the night parked at their merch table, desperate to hock a CD, tee shirt, anything to put gas in their van and 7-11 foodstuffs in their belly. Maybe you liked the band. But you didn’t feel like making the ten foot trek over to the table. Maybe you’re like me and never remember to hit up an ATM on the way to the show, thus making said walk an exercise in futility. Or maybe the scenario was slightly different and you just weren’t paying enough attention to the band to form an accurate opinion –- only to google their name on a whim a few months later and realize, well, you’re an idiot. An idiot with a lot of friends, but an idiot nonetheless.

This situation is infinitely more complicated when you factor in a band over seas. However, after many fruitless Amoeba trips and a frantic email to the long-suffering and highly talented Elias and the Wizzkids, I finally obtained my (latest) holy grail, A Little Mess.

See kids, sometimes persistence DOES pay off!

A Little Mess is a jangly, bouncy celebration of the auditorily absurd. Harmonica, flute, howled lyrics and harmonized choruses crowd the album, which bears more in common with the lovelorn 1950s boy-girl group movement than their less accessible, cool as ice Svenska indie pop counterparts1. Indirectly addressing this disparity, their myspace banner announces, “We’re though being cool.” What a coincidence, the would-be hipsters never were!

And that wasn't enough of a hard sell, I present to you this:

What girl can resist such an amazing ability to jog and gesture?

Lyrically, Elias and his beloved Wizzkids skew darker. When you’re not on stage hosting a geek-filled love fest...well, sometimes life kinda sucks. The album tracks the slow, determined progression into adulthood and everything that makes you lose sleep along the way. You turn 24, and wonder where your job, house, wife and kids are. Naturally, steps are taken to rectify the situation. "The job" finds Elias forced to answer the eternal burning question: What the hell are you supposed to say/when they ask you to describe yourself in just three words? In "The Mermaid," Elias works on the lack of wife problem. However, things don’t go as swimmingly as he’d hoped2. Despite being told there are many other fish in the sea, Elias moans, You were never a fish/no, you were a mermaid to me. Yeah, can’t help you there dude, I'm still wearing waterwings.

The album ends, if not with the answers on how to avoid this inevitable angst-filled rite of passage (although "The Dance" does make a good case for frolicking away the blues), then at least a temporary respite from that whole growing up thing. Elias tucks himself in at night, Wizzkids accompaniment slowly fading into the distance, and sighs, When you’re lying in bed and not sleeping yet and you can still feel the fresh taste of toothpaste, isn’t it nice to turn out the lights and say goodnight?

Yes. Yes it is. Just don't grow up too much before your next album, okay?

1. This is in no way meant as a dig at the all the cool as ice pop coming out of Sweden, particularly since Club 8 and Sally Shapiro are hovering near the top of my playlist at the moment. I’m just relieved Elias has come along to prove my lack of coolness was denied based on genes rather than geography.
2. Pun intended. Deal with it, m.a.b.

mp3: "The Dance" by Elias & The Wizzkids
mp3: "Young and Hairy" by Elias & The Wizzkids

No comments: