[27 October 2005]
There was this cartoon My Pet Monster that I used to watch on the weekend sometimes. Nine or 10 years old, there wasn’t much else I wanted to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Not that it was enjoyable, or even entertaining. The show featured a lurking sense of dread and that’s what kept me glued. The transformation of Max’s plush toy into a walking and talking monster was bizarrely affecting. Everything about the show was feverishly wholesome. At the same time, this monster and his monster past continually threatened the destruction of Max’s little life.
Tangiers’ The Family Myth reminds me of My Pet Monster. Underneath the sugary colors and domestic bliss something terrible lurks. It’s more than fun and it’s something else than normal. The mild-mannered pop rock band wrought by the threats of the monster effect. The transformation from docile to dreadful is always waiting, and unendingly off-putting. The Family Myth documents normalcy’s capacity to suddenly turn monstrous. Consistently good-natured and off-kilter, Tangiers are preparing for the transformation.
Climbing through the histories of friends and family, pets and lovers, Josh Reichmann and James Sayce make an awfully engrossing racket. Twelve songs stacked with stirring moments and no constancy. Nothing remains certain or solid in The Family Myth. Cluttered with rhythm and melodies this album is hard to keep understood. It cannot be hidden either; its energy and bluntness reject privacy or escapism. This is rock music turned realistically uncertain. Tangiers doesn’t know what happens next.
Now it’s generally cuddly, but what’s saying that Monster doesn’t turn and abduct Max’s friend Chuckie, or eat his parents? I never could see this pet as entirely tame and Max’s life wasn’t made any easier by having him around. But his life was not so perfect to begin with. His parents were nowhere to be seen and seemed to banish their son to his treehouse. Max was left to deal with monsters and extra dimensional travel on his own. And as the song goes, “There’s something wrong with him.”
Guitar and bass and piano and drums, Tangiers deal with their shadows and demons in The Family Myth. It’s their third season on disc and the palette is accordingly darker and more speculative. They don’t stray far from their comforts, but now the implications extend beyond the dance floor into the living room. Capturing a combination of beauty and dread, the fright of the everyday, this album is irresistible fodder for rainy Saturday afternoons. Still, nostalgic metaphors and protracted impressionism aside, this record is plain right.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/tangiers-familymyth/