Music is the struggle of the soul to be heard. It is a sadness. Just as comedy ironically relies on suffering, so too does music. It is part of la lutte continuelle, la tristesse durera of life if you will. The idea that I’m (very ostentatiously) trying to convey here is that you can’t really have a whole album of upbeat songs – which brings us nicely on to Eliza and the Bear’s new album Group Therapy, which gives me such an obvious joke about the quality of the album that I’m ashamed to even acknowledge it.
The thing is, Group Therapy, for all my amateur dramatics about music and existentialism in the above paragraph, isn’t a bad album. It’s tightly produced, the musicianship is good, there’s a clear idea behind the album and a solid foundation here. Unfortunately, it’s not really built on to any degree. Or rather, it is built on, it’s just that every building is a prefab – cheap, plain and easily put together. Each one pretty much identical to the next. So, in case you’re losing track from mixing of metaphors – the songs are like prefabs. The album feels formulaic apart from ‘I Wanna Feel It’ which A. definitely is formulaic and B. sounds like a Jason Derulo song. Indeed, when the line “I guess you’re just another re-run” is sung on ‘Re-Run’ near the end of the album, it feels a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. The formula may be a winning formula for pop success and I can’t say they’re bad songs – but this is essentially the argument people have about films. What’s worse: something like The Room, almost objectively awful but enjoyable, or Twister, for example, which is obviously cinematically better than The Room but less enjoyable?
When Talking Heads released More Songs About Buildings and Food it was to parody the formulaic nature of songwriting within the music industry, and an ironic joke. If Eliza and the Bear did something similar it would be ‘More Songs about Girls and being Positive and Whimsical’. Except it wouldn’t be ironic, it would simply be a concise review of the album. Completely non-threatening, completely unambitious, but still completely listenable, I’d call this the musical equivalent of a cardboard box, or perhaps the perfect follow-up to Coldplay making a career out of being fucking dull.
[Image credit: elizaandthebear.com]