reviewed by Jack Derricourt
I never thought of Florida as a mystical place. It has always conjured up images of white polyester and Tony Montana in my head. That’s before I heard the The Walls Are Blonde proudly channeling Naples, FL on their newest release, Karaoke’eko.
I’ve been digging The Walls for the last few months now, tuning into the weird and twisted pop twinges that Dave Kleiser and Co. have been putting down. This new collection is a chilled coke with lime, ready to mellow out anyone willing to listen. There are the usual elements of tattered tape edits and warping speeds, trademarks fit for the Ontario Reality Generation that Kleiser declares himself a part of; but the tone of the recordings is removed from the chaos, just enough to make songs called “Get High With Satan” and “Music to Fuck Yourself To” sound like hymns.
Through the tape noise and backwards vocals, opener “Jeanette and the Space Lady” position the Walls in the realm of heavy chanson. There are airy vocals and tales of staying up all night, as well as sturdy organ work filtering through the track. So many times while listening to this album, I felt a sense of the familiar dominating, like I’d heard the music long ago at a party or a bar when something strange had happened. I feel that’s where these recordings thrive: in building scraps of half-recollected sounds and noises into intriguing patterns.
The album takes a couple of wonderful stabs at the art of the cover. My fifteen-year-old self tilts with glee as Kleiser does his own brand of a Strokes cover: “Hard to Explain” is a delightful tune when played quietly as a bedroom fantasy. There’s a pain in the lyrics that I’ve not noticed before. “Adam’s Song” is also done up with blissful, chilled, acoustic style.
Of course, the horn parts and flute lines featured on the album will bring a number of familiar sonic avenues home to the audience — Neutral Milk Hotel will sound off for many a listener. But these songs contain lives very much their own. The real seems stuffed into every lyric: “No I Simply Can’t Dance Anymore” feels like a fairytale ending to a story, and Kleiser’s voice appears to collect all of the scraps up in judgment. It’s all good, he says.
The overall message at of Karaoke’eko is one of transition, of moving on, of “Alright, what’s next.” It feels like an organic transition for The Walls Are Blonde. I highly recommend you check it out.
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +swoop
Top Tracks: “Jeanette and the Space Lady” ; “No I Simply Can’t Dance Anymore”