THURSDAY, DECEMBER 08, 2011 |
Posted by: Joe Puglisi
There's a fine line between sounding raw and sounding amateurish, and Chocolate Robots are straight up straddling that sucker. With an off-kilter sense of time, sloppy riffs, and names that inspire Pitchfork death snipers to start camping on rooftops across the street from wherever they live, Chocolate Robots feel refreshingly rebellious. Their album Pizza Face is probably the most fun thirty minutes of music nobody will hear this year. They mailed it to us in a pizza box, presumably from the pizza place they work at in rural Canada. Turns out "rural Canadian pizza" might be the best hyperbole to describe how weird and wonderful they are.
The records have a crunchy, old feel to it, probably because the band recorded it on "old tube and tape equipment" leftover from their dad's career as an Italian singer/songwriter in the 70s. The lackadaisical vocals and thin, wiry riffs sound like The Strokes in high school. This probably helped get the attention of Fab Moretti, so he went bowling with the guys and passed their music on to a few notable producers, like Thom Monahan (Devandra Banhart, Vetiver), who helped take the LP from "sounding like Michael Bolton" to the spectacularly pseudo-finished product. They even got Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Unicorns) to mix a few tracks. The result is an unabashedly fun, flighty romp through twee-infused garage rock, like Is This It? by the Black Lips in the 10th grade on acid.
The band has one other release out there, 2007's Purr Quality. It reads as a sort of odd prologue, much more akin to juvenile imitations of their inspirations with names like "Hot Sauce," "Popcorn," "Pirates," and "Chicken Shit" not offering much besides superficial lyricism and a taste for vocal effects. But stick with it, and the songs become stealthy, infectious, sing-along toe-tap bait against all odds, igniting just the right corners of the cortex, and the stupidity of it all kind of transcends itself into something worth your time. Stay with me.
Pizza Face borrows on this formula with some new ingredients, and yields infinite returns. The songs shift from unfocused musings on food items to unrequited love with impossible woman, and the odd descriptions of love and relationships ("Impossible Princess," "Young Luff") add some personality to the oldest (and sometimes the most trite) subject matter. The songs feel a little tighter, a little more thought out, and much more saturated in memorable hooks and progressions, all while retaining the weird nuances that make this band more fun and unpredictable than the average indie schtick.
In today's world of Odd Future rapegaze and Lana Del Rey internet hijinks, it seems like uniqueness and authenticity are mutually exclusive. It tends to leave the most interesting new material to remain anonymous in the over-saturated sea of new music. Why bother? Chocolate Robots take a honey badger approach to this fatalism (they just don't give a sh*t), or perhaps it's just the idealism of youth that seems to make their tunes impervious to think pieces. Either way, it's too fun to stay unknown for long.