The Broken West, a bright-eyed well tanned quintuplet hailing from the musical paradise of Los Angeles, have recently released their full length debut on Merge records, I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On, an album that I currently have the dubious pleasure of holding in my hands right now. It really is quite bad. I am finding right now that mere words, the only tools currently at my disposal, may very well be insufficient to describe the unfortunate noises entering my ears. So instead I encourage you to picture a modern day Sisyphus sitting on a chaise lounge in his living room sipping a brimming martini and sucking on an olive smartly plucked from the bottom of his glass. And instead of the rock that we may rightly have expected him to be pushing on his uphill treadmill, he is forced to walk, hands trembling, towards the stereo where he will push play, auto-repeat. And as I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On falls from the speakers and thrusts itself upon unwilling ears in a manner that could pierce the hymen of the most virtuous of virgins, he covers his face with his hands and settles into eternity.
Yes, that does seem to sum it up quite nicely – but don’t take my word for it, give it a listen yourself.
I like to think of myself as someone who is not wasteful. I realize that I don’t recycle absolutely everything that I could and I don’t carry around a travel mug everywhere I go in case I find myself ordering a drip coffee, opting instead for the disposable cup. But for the most part I consider myself a conscientious person, sensitive to the wants of wastefulness. I think this is a good thing in many cases but I feel compelled to state that it is entirely unnecessary when the resources one is trying to save are completely insubstantial and should never run out.
This, I am afraid, is just a rather gentle way of saying that there is not chord progression or piano strike on I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On that has not been progressed or struck on dozens of other albums in manners more convincing for their apparent originality due to their timeliness. The music sounds as if it was fabricated by a committee panel based on questionaires sent out to a random sample of middle-class middle-age white suburbanites living in the greater Los Angeles area. Its appeal is so generic that I can’t imagine that it could actually be appreciated by anyone who puts in a CD or drops the needle to vinyl expecting to actually listen to music in an active way, instead of just encountering it in passing as from so many forgettable car commercials or muzak bastardizations playing softly over the speakers at your local grocery store.
There is something about the head bopping toe tapping sounds of soulless music and a singer’s endless refrain of “I want my baby on my arm, I want my baby on my arm, I want my baby on my arm…” that kind of gives me a halfy. I can only imagine that this was produced either as a misguided attempt to connect with “the kids,” or possibly a dare.
Now, so that you don’t think I’m being unfair, I am not entirely against any genre of music that inspires butts to shake. In fact, a band I’m rather fond of has recently released an album, so if you want to hear upbeat music that can actually be enjoyed, I’d encourage you to check out The Apples In Stereo. Their new album, New Magnetic Wonder, despite being partially released by Elijah “don’t call me fucking Frodo anymore” Wood, rocks me in a rather pleasant way. In particular, skip the player to “7 Stars” and start tapping your toes and shaking as you like, happy in the knowledge that Sisyphus is back on his mountain, pushing his rock, I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On, safely dropped buried or burned in a courteous and ceremonial manner, as is necessary after the psychological trauma it will undoubtedly inflict on your unfortunate ears.