Kevin Blechdom: Eat My Heart Out

Kevin Blechdom
Eat My Heart Out
Chicks on Speed

It must be fun to have Kevin Blechdom a/k/a/ Kristin Erickson in love with you, laughing during sex, sending you real human hearts on Valentine’s Day. A laptop problem child too smart for the tropes of love and dating, Blechdom resists writing typical loves songs when she knows she’s pretty typically in love. The result is something like Eat My Heart Out, a record that is both heartbreakingly sincere and completely insane.

The musical tools (MAX/MSP, key-tar triggers) she uses on Eat My Heart Out are the same she utilized as one half of the electronic glitch pranksters, Blectum from Blechdom. Both computer music composition majors at Mills College, she and her partner Blevin made challenging and hilarious albums, mixing glitchy, IDM romps with raunchy sex jokes. Since Blechdom went solo she’s turned far more personal, using her love-ache as the common theme in most of her music and cover art. It could have been the extraction of Blechdom from Blectum, her move to Berlin, or her relationship with Kid 606 — either or any way her heart was firmly on sleeve (or against tit, maybe) on 2003’s Bitches Without Britches. Eat My Heart Out takes it further.

“Coming” comes on like a Styx rock opera, with arpeggiated banjo (Blechdom’s proficient) moving forward along with synth-orchestra swell. Blechdom sings with the declarative, open-mouthed voice of a choir nerd. It suits her songs, which function as mini-musicals, changing rhythms and ideas two or three times each track. She also layers choruses behind her vocals on songs like “Invisible Rock”, stacking “I love you’s” over timpani drums and faux-Hallelujah choruses with melodramatic glee. If this seems odd for the same girl who wrote songs titled, “Audios Tool” and “Toilet Trouble”, there are bits of old Blechdom-style Blechdom near the end of the record. “Songydong” froths along like any of the carnival grinders off Haus De Snaus.

The booty bounce of Blectum from Blechdom is still there on the surface, along with the theatrics of Blechdom’s more recent work. But behind the big sounds are carefully chosen samples: WB cartoon characters run in place and spring boards get sprung on “The Porky Pine and the Jellyfish”, and birds chirp over the second half of “Johnny”. These layered touches let the listener know that even when Blechdom’s soul-baring, she still contains multitudes. Dig the panning, if you will, on “Get on Your Knees”, where a fat man belly laughs menacingly in your right ear while Blechdom sings in your left. It is as jarring as it is endearing.

The real story comes toward the middle of Eat My Heart Out. At its bleeding center are two tracks, “Slow Me Down” and “Day to Day”: the first, totally a cappella, and the second accompanied only by simple drumming, banjo, and the least (yet most) digital of instruments, hand claps. These songs are Blechdom after she’s shed instruments and ironies like so much clothing. Her voice even drops its stage shout when she almost-whispers, “Please slow me down, so I can enjoy you forever”. Analog does not always equals honesty, but in the case of Blechdom, banjo strings are heartstrings.

But whether acoustic or disrobed, it’s ultimately impossible to tell when Blechdom’s being serious and when she’s fucking with you. Some songs are painfully confessional. But “Joke as Self Intro” has her repeating “Being yourself as joke as self as joke as…” for 30 seconds. On the next track, which is as close to a Prince jam as she’ll ever get, Blechdom coughs, “I love you… Oh my God, I just got so scared”, before fake-crying. The song’s narrator tells us Blechdom’s just bought a lot of whip cream… and used it to huff nitrous. And just like that, she’s farted in bed, distanced herself again.

On “Suspended in Love” she offers that she has even, “acted like a girl” for her beloved, a concession she’s obviously uncomfortable with. It’s unfortunate that for girls, being in love, being smart, and having a sense of humor can’t be in harmony, but their dissonance produces much more interesting music (and girls). Blechdom says some combination of the words “I love you” and “I’m scared” on nearly every track on Eat My Heart Out, two confessions that take a certain amount of fearlessness, if we’re allowed to take them seriously. But even when she declares, “I’m Kevin Blechdom, and you broke my heart” on “Suspended in Love”, it’s hard to tell if she’s really giving you something. After all, it’s Kevin Blechdom’s heart that’s broken, and it may or may not be Kristin Erickson’s.

RATING 7 / 10