December 15, 2002

Homescience "Songs for Sick Days"

So, Elephant 6 is now "dead." Good. Sure, there were one or two great moments, but for the most part, I was rather annoyed by the lo-fi mediocre nature of most of the bands. Many of these bands seemed to be simply the same band with the same people and the same sound but a different name. Yawn. It seemed that for each Neutral Milk Hotel, there were five bands that shouldn't have gone further than many of those had members of Neutral Milk Hotel in them! To honor the recently departed, we won't name names, but we'll say that maybe it was time it was laid to rest. That the founding fathers officially proclaimed its passing means that they thought so, too.

But here's where it gets problematic. Where does imitation end and tribute begin? Isn't any band or label's legacy seen in those that continue on the style or the sound long after the original bands have split? What happens when the influence grew exponentially during its lifetime? Yeah, see what I mean when I say this is a real problem? Not to worry, though; Homescience sound influenced by, but they don't sound derivitive of.

What sets Homescience apart, at least in my mind, is that their lead singer (sorry, don't really know who, information on these kids is really sketchy, at best) sounds like Tripping Daisy/Polyphonic Spree ringmaster Tim DeLaughter. Exactly like him. So much so that if I didn't know where these guys are from, I'd suspect a secret side project was afoot. That aside, it's the singing that really wins me over. It's very innocent, child-like. Normally silly lyrics don't come off quite the same when sung with a serious, grown-up voice. "M...Art In" (i think it's the title of track 11) is perhaps my favorite. It's a paen to working in a fast-food restaurant, and it's a rather poignant observation of life. I think.

The music itself is a joyous racket. For, you see, it's that loose, shambling sound of youth that makes Songs for Sick Days utterly charming. No song lasts over three minutes, and they scoot from idea to idea without pause. Sad ballad segues into Beach Boys riffs segues into pianos and guitars and loops and lions and tigers and bears oh my! Homescience never sit still enough to be pigeonholed--and that's perhaps the one flaw of Songs for Sick Days. There are twenty-two songs on here, and while all of them are nice, I do believe that each one, if developed a little more, would be killer. Mind you, many of these tracks are excellent as they are, but a little more time in the oven would really provide the difference between good and great.

But that really is a minor quibble. I'm very eager to hear what these kids will do next. Songs for Sick Days is a fun record, and while the sheer amount of music might be offputting in one full dose, small doses--taken every four hours, or as directed by a doctor--are nothing but theraputic. If I still made mixtapes, I could probably find about twenty-two songs on here that would be great. Now if only someone would give these kids a big studio budget to spend some time on their music, I suspect that they'll produce a miracle cure for the current epidemic of musical shite.

--Joseph Kyle

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