[10 August 2006]
Lets be honest, Say Hi To Your Mom is largely the work of one man, and Eric Elbogen’s (for that is his name) fourth foray into the world of pop music is a strange, beguiling affair. Not to say that the previous three (Ferocious Mopes, Numbers and Mumbles, and Discosadness) were run of the mill releases. On the contrary, they were filled with wondrous and peculiar observations on life and relationships, masked as throwaway collage-boy poetry. A fine example of this being “Let’s Talk About Spaceships” from Numbers and Mumbles. This tune sidesteps that uncomfortable silence that preludes the we-need-to-talk-about-our-relationship talk by simply saying “LOOK BEHIND YOU, A SPIDER!”
This time round Elbogen is preoccupied with the music of the night, Bela Lugosi style. Impeccable Blahs is an album with a concept (rather than a concept album); all of the songs are about vampires and their relationships with their human prey. The sleeve notes are clear that we are not talking about the “... creepy, goth vampires but rather people just like you and me who happen to get their nourishment from drinking blood.” In as much, Elbogen plucks one of literature’s most maligned inventions from the night sky and grounds it in his own version of the real world. Vampires, if Say Hi To Your Mom is to be believed, have feelings and needs just like the rest of us. They are funny too.
Lyrically, this record is as droll as it is observant, cutting in the “reality” of becoming a vampire with the poetic illusion. For example in “Blah Blah Blah” the vampire breathes to his potential victim, “If you want, I’ll give you eternal life. Well not so much life, but have you ever seen a good zombie movie? Well like that, but you’ll be smarter and you’ll stay 23.” It is this mixture of off-the-wall humour and crackingly catchy choruses that make this record such an enjoyable listen. It cannot fail to bring a smile to your face.
The textual content is counterpoint, with stripped bare musical arrangements that are almost so unadorned that they are in places missing altogether. It is at once a mixture of simple guitar lines, undemanding quirky electronic sounds, and lush layered puree. Still, this straightforwardness really kinda works. The music has a sincere personal feel, an honesty that you rarely find in pop these days. This may mean that it doesn’t appeal to everyone’s tastes. Those that like their pop all bloated with multi-part melodies may find this to be an unsatisfying morsel which will not sate their gourmet tastes. These people should get over themselves.
Most things about this release are about simplicity, from the pink artwork barely adorned with a small bat and a kooky drawing of a vamp, to the musical content described above. However, it would be a real mistake to think that this sparseness is detrimental. The structure of the 10 songs on Impeccable Blahs is pretty perfect. They may not be the shiniest buttons in the pop box, but they are the kind that exhibit an unusual quality that makes you want to keep them and take them out every once in a while to look at them.
In the grand scheme of things, this record is unlikely to prevent any wars. However, we live in an unjust world full of evil things that want to suck the life from us, whether that be taxes, Big Brother or vampires. So, any piece of work that goes some way to set the balance right by bringing these things to our attention so that we can snigger at them (well actually ourselves) is, quite frankly, more than welcome.