[16 December 2009]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Inspector 22 is a project by Todd Emmert, and he is certainly someone unconcerned with fidelity. Hey Man, I Understand, like new lo-fi kings Times New Viking, hearkens back to a time when tape-hiss coated, murky recordings were vital to the DIY music scene. But also like Times New Viking, it feels like an applied affectation here. Amid this fuzzy mess, when Emmert decides to deliver a choppy, thumping pop song, he can charm. The deadpan “Kid in a Well” or the acoustic garage rocker “Full Moon” are earnest and chugging and a whole lot of fun. However, around them are moments that feel intentionally irritating. There is little beauty to be found in the spiking, formless noise of “Moon Landing, Take One” or in the six-minute-plus horn-and-keys tangle of “Tea with Pazuzu”. Perhaps worst of all comes the nearly unlistenable vocal-loop stomp that is “Without Blood”, which brings any momentum the album had to a complete halt. It is one thing to stick yourself stubbornly to poor sound quality, but it is quite another to then cram it full of noises that don’t fit together. This is especially the case when the bit of ramshackle pop you squeeze in around them proves so much more appealing.