Friday, October 24, 2008

Ill Ease - 'All Systems A-Go-Go!'

Screw bein’ serious; I and possibly, maybe, hopefully you, just wanna dance. I’m talking a silly little jig, preferably with some spinning thrown in. Said jig will last no more than five minutes because, honestly, I’m a bit out of shape. But for those gloriously stupid five minutes, I fully intend to pop in Ill Ease’s new album, All Systems A-Go-Go!. Then I will throw the cursed thing into the deepest, darkest nether regions of my closet.

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York and consisting of only one member, Elizabeth Sharp, Ill Ease is anything but what its name stands for. Rather, it/she is pretty easygoing, so much so that I’m not even sure how to write the band’s name. The front cover bills ‘em as “Ill Ease!”, the CD, “Ill Ease!!”, and iTunes and the spine of the CD case settle for just “Ill Ease.” Whatever. That’s just how she rolls, man.

The disc starts off with “Too Much Sucky (I Hate Drum Machines).” Sharp’s Brooklyn roots show right away. The fuzzy guitars, lo-fi recording, and ridiculously stupid lyrics all smack of “New York, 2001.” Coupling that with Sharp’s off-key, Kimya Dawson Lite voice makes for two strikes against the album within the first few seconds. But while “Too Much Sucky” lacks originality, it’s still a fun, rollicking number, albeit a tone deaf one. For the sake of preserving its silliness as much as possible, here’s a phonetic spelling of the song’s opening lines: “I hate drum machines. I hate drum mah-SHEEEEEENS!” Make sure you say that last part in a really high voice, now. Sharp’s criticisms of the pseudo-instrument start off practical, “They always keep the beat. They always stay on time.” Right on; it’s too perfect. I like my Ringo Starr off-kilter, clam-flammit. But after accusing drum machines of having “too much sucky and not enough fucky,” Sharp starts to get lazy, also claiming that drum machines are “always rhyming.” Then she cops the chorus from Devo’s “Whip It” for a whole verse. Righteous. Regardless, the loose playing and dance-tastic guitar work make the song an overall solid opener. It’s not brilliant, but at least it’s fun.

But after the absurd giddiness of “Too Much Sucky (I Hate Drum Machines),” the record settles for mimicking latter-day Sonic Youth. “New York No Wave” and “New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Milan (It’s Worldwide! It’s Fashion Suicide!)" both breeze by with a Thurston Moore coolness, but unremarkably so.“Walking Pneumonia” tries to liven things up by using the word “fuck” a lot. It boasts a fairly basic guitar pattern and an insistence on telling most of the United States (plus D.C.) to fuck off. Florida gets fucked twice. It’s like listening to a 12-year-old boy write his first song in between practicing “Hot Cross Buns” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

After the lengthy “Power Turns Me On!”, which is half-song and half-a-shit-load-of-noise, and two remixes (“I Love Drum Machines (Napoleon III Remix)?!” Finally, a chance to experience the nostalgia of… like a half-hour ago…), All Systems A-Go-Go! mercifully ends. It apes Sonic Nurse well enough in parts, which is cool, but I already have that album. I don’t need another one. At least we can agree on drum machines sucking, though.

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