Listen to this while high: The Dead Milkmen's The King in Yellow.
Behind the buzz: Eighties
college-rock jokers you either got or you didn't, The Dead Milkmen are back
with three original members and a snootful of the same old eff-yew. They
weren't the first punks to goose risibilities (Sam the Sham got there firstest
and The Dickies mostest), but they were among the first to take the spare and
serious hardcore era somewhere a little less self-righteous. I always liked
19th century fantasy story treasured by people who still read, is one of many
mysteries in a world already reeling before admixture with the below strain.
Today's weed: Giggling's
the thing, so I decided on a fat chunk of Special Reserve indica, buttressed with
a dusting of OG Blonde kief.
Udderly daft: The
Milkmen's first album since 1995 opens with a titular burst of roots-rock that's
only slightly more C.W. McCall than the North Mississippi All-Stars before settling
into American Gothic grisliness. "Fauxhemia" is a goof on hipsterdom with
the poignant line "No, I don't get Norah Jones/Maybe that's why I feel so alone"
and a lot of jokey shoegaze guitar riffs. Structurally, this whole album feels less like a
canonical Milkmen joint than one of those early Eighties Blue Oyster Cult LPs that
lurches from one tricky obscure joke to another like some nitrous freak at an
art gallery. The satirical rightwing raving and howling sounds pretty tame in
an era that takes Herman Cain almost seriously. "Some Young Guy" is a nasty
little stalker ditty worthy of Napoleon XVI in jabbering intensity, and "Passport
to Depravity" is unironic like an upraised finger worn as a party hat. The
Milkmen have gotten a lot more sophisticated since their Reagan Age heyday, as
a lot of oldtimey punks inevitably did once they discovered The Chocolate
Watchband and The Electric Prunes. The record's sense of outrage isn't much we
haven't heard before -- "Commodify Your Dissent" gnaws a beef already chewed
over by the Frankfurt School back when Bill Haley was a zygote. "Solvents (For
Home and Industry)" is a freakishly funny closing jape about the kind of crazy
you usually find in Tennessee Williams, if not here.
Psychotropic verdict: Truly a cow for all seasons.