13 July 2010

The Best New Album of the Year, Ever: "Old" Is the New "New"

It's totally cool now to stay in school and live by the rules, and baby, I got rules like the day is long.

"Old" Is the New "New," or Why Everything You Know About Music Is Completely Wrong.

As far as I can tell, indie kids and hipsters (OK, mostly hipsters) seem to love Jamie Lidell's newest album, Compass. I'll bet they dance awkwardly to it all the time in their hipster fucking clubs with their hipster fucking sunglasses even though it's a club, so it's fucking dark in there. Fuck that scene, man, I don't need that noise.

And as it turns out, I don't need the noise of Compass either. I liked it on my first listen. It had some good hooks, solid drum sound, great vocals, and "Enough's Enough" is funky, tasty goodness. But entirely unlike some of my favorite albums of all time, Compass never grew on me as I listened over and over. I started to pick up the little incidental things, and all of those little incidental things were pointless noise, causing me to get progressively more bored with the album until I turned on CSPAN 2 for a little excitement.

I won't say that I think Compass is bad, but it does feel like there's some kind of planned obsolescence in the sound, like it's meant to decay on each listen until you remix it with Lady Gaga's newest hit, select scenes from Mr. Belvedere, and homemade fart noises to create the next YouTube sensation. You know, to sort of change it up a little.

With contributors such as Beck and Feist and a guy from Wilco and a different guy from Grizzly Bear, I expected some music with staying power. Instead, what I got feels like the joke the cool kids pull in after school specials where they pretend to let a non-cool kid into the group and then embarrass that non-cool kid by revealing that he or she is not a cool kid. Also, they reveal that the cool kids are a bunch of dicks. Also, if the cool kids are in Carrie, they pretty much get what's coming to them.

It's almost as if Compass was designed to filter out the true hipsters from the poser hipsters, which in a lot of ways is complete bullshit, because all hipsters are, by definition, posers. But stay with me for a minute on this one, OK? Compass has some really great moments, so people actually like it, at least when they first hear a snippet here or there. It's why I bought it off the listening rack. But all of those moments are temporary, giving way to a vague noisiness, which is exactly the kind of shit that hipsters live for so they can tell you how uncool you are for not understanding it.

Normally, regular folks avoid hipster music because most hipster music is terrible. Sometimes, there are albums that hipsters love until everyone else discovers them, at which point hipsters disavow these albums, even though they secretly like them because they are actually good albums that transcends the needless coolness boundary. Sometimes, probably, hipsters hit on something that's good and no one else hears about it. Hey, it could happen.

ANYWAY, the reason I think hipsters like Compass is because it sounds, on first listen, like it's going to be transcendent, and all us non-cool kids get to dig something a little different that's fresh and exciting. Except we then discover that when the only new thing you add to mostly reappropriated grooves are some odd squawks you made with your MacBook Pro, your music sounds a lot like a bunch of reappropriated grooves with some odd squawks.

Beyond the first-listen mask, there's just not a lot there, so real hipsters will insist on the genius of the music, but fake hipsters, along with the rest of us, will give up on the album. Real hipsters get to love Compass and get to keep their completely unrealistic feelings of superiority because the rest of us pretty much just got duped. Yeah, well, fuck you, hipsters.

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