Insane Clown Posse have been getting, strangely, popular again.
Although the face-painted duo have never truly gone away, their mainstream profile has been increasing year after year. Whether it be Saturday Night Live parodying their overstuffed infomercials for their annual Gathering of the Juggalos, their inexplicable collaboration with Jack White, or, perhaps, their lyrics about quasi-spirituality (including a claim that “there’s magic everywhere in this bitch”) being endlessly ridiculed, the duo have managed to work their way into the national conversation now and then, although often in a wildly negative light.
Of course, these are all views from the outside. Not many casual fans know that with their 2002 release The Wraith: Shangri-La, they revealed that all of their circus pageantry was actually a metaphor for God, which, as Bradley Torreano noted in his review of the album for AMG notes, “is a disappointing way to end their first six records [...] as their evil image and downright hateful early years clash harshly with their sudden new age attitude. Even if it is a joke, it isn’t a funny one, or even a clever one.” More interesting, and less reported, was the re-introduction of their producer Mike E. Clark, who is actually a rather inventive musical maestro, always finding a nice hook for the duo to land on even when lyrically they leave much to be desired (give a listen to their 2000 single “Tilt-A-Whirl” for proof of that).
Thus, with all of the braggadocio leading up to the release of their new album The Mighty Death Pop, the band insisted that they would be getting back to their earlier, harsher sounds. And leadoff single “Chris Benoit” lands with a mighty, deadening thud.
Despite the minor-key carnival keyboards and slick music video for the track, it’s hard to think of a song as toothless or hookless in recent memory. There’s female voices talking about a “catastrophic de-mise”, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope’s remarkably disjointed verses, oft punctuated by the line “what the fuck am I doing??” repeated over and over—it just adds up to a clunky mess. Echoes of their last album’s lead-off single “In Yo Face” run abound, but not because the songs share any stylistic similarities, no; they just both sound phoned in. Painfully so.
“What the fuck am I doing?” they keep asking us. After some time, however, we realize that it’s not a rhetorical question as much as it is statement: they truly don’t know what they’re trying do, leading to a song that’s flatter than a cup of week-old Faygo.
// Notes from the Road
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