Adam Richman: Patience and Science

Peter Funk

A record so bland that it almost reaches new levels of disposability. I'm sure someone will like it.

Adam Richman

Patience and Science

Label: Or Music
US Release Date: 2005-04-19
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate

For whatever reasons I am deeply distrustful of young artists who seem to appear from nowhere fully formed, ready to rock the world, polished and spit shined to an immaculate sheen. I can't really explain it with any precision. It's a feeling that things that are worth a hoot steep in their juices a bit longer, seem to carry the dust of a struggle with discovering their sound. I just can't imagine that even if they came of age during the peak of Nirvana-dom or Dookie-ism that there's really any way that Thom Yorke or Jeff Tweedy or Bob Mould or Perry Farrell or John Darnielle or Pharrell or Dave Bazan or Ben Folds, hell, even Colin Meloy would under any conceivable circumstances turn out an album like Patience And Science. Perhaps all these comparisons are completely out of bounds. It's entirely possible that these jaded old ears hear "typical" when they're supposed to hear "fresh". It's without a doubt true that they simply shut down when presented with such oxymoronic phrases as "pop-punk".

The story on Adam Richman is one that originates in isolation. Maybe that's the problem. Growing up in Allentown, Pennsylvania Richman was reared on a pop culture diet that led him to hours in the family basement playing guitar and piano while poring ideas into a multi-track tape recorder. I suppose it could have been worse, we could've ended up with a steel town version of Ryan Adams. But instead we got a semi-emo popster who writes catchy choruses about clichéd situations and rhymes in succession "door", "floor" and "whore". It's not that Richman isn't a songwriter with some degree of merit. He plays every instrument on the album. He can write a hook and sing a catchy chorus four times before fading out, and I have to admit (because I'm a realist) that his brand of pop music will certainly attract some listeners like bugs to a zapper. But it's simply striking in its unoriginality. So striking in fact that when I read in his press pack that he abandoned a collaboration with "a well established production company and major label session players" because he felt he was "losing grip on the unconditional creative control he was used to" I was shook to the core at the thought that Patience and Science could've been made to sound any blander or less memorable. And that in a nutshell is the goocher. It's not that this album is "bad" in the sense that the playing stinks or the production is muddy or the execution of ideas is so maddeningly incomplete. On the contrary the songs are serviceable, performed well (though Richman's emo-whine grates to no end) and polished up real purty. The problem is that there's simply nothing interesting about a single note on this record. The songs are about as exciting as Richman's faux Mohawk. This is music to be spoon fed to a willing demographic too young to be thinking critically (well, really at all) about the music they like.

I'll 'fess up that I may be holding Mr. Richman to an impossible standard for a 22-year-old. But there have been other 22-year-olds who have done challenging, exciting things within the confines of a catchy tune or a tortured lyric (see list in paragraph 1). If Richman is a "next big thing" at this stage of his career or anything more than a capable musician who pierced his lip and got a shot at the big time because he's got swooney good looks, than everything we value as a society, indeed our whole human accomplishment to date, should be reevaluated. Of course I'll regret writing those words the second he crashes into the Top 40 and flips me off from the stage as he receives his first MTV Music Award.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.