reviewed by Michael Thomas
We all probably wish we could take our younger selves and grab them by the shoulders, yelling “Why did you do that?” We wish we could give ourselves advice that would have made our younger selves stronger in the face of their fear and ignorance. Unfortunately, we do not have the technology or power to do that yet.
In music, the next best thing is to have a musical conversation with your younger self. Some artists dig up old songs, and in the case of Blackpaw Society’s latest album, the mysterious Toronto one-dog band has taken some old material and melded it with newer recordings. As he puts it, it’s a conversation between his “younger, stupid self” and his “older, stupider self.”
There’s no one song that ever screams “this was made earlier in my artistic career!” but that’s fine, because Blackpaw Society’s pop experimentation is always worth taking in. He previously put out an album that imagined 1950s song if they were recorded now, and on Let’s Destroy Humans he’s revisiting his own work while creating something new.
There’s a dreamlike layer to everything on this album, from the random dial-up-modem noise at the beginning of “Swamp Kids” or the brief twinkles of synth in “Is It Evil.” But he’s not content to lure listeners into a lull. He starts off many songs relatively quietly, sometimes with an air of creepiness, but more often than not, he occasionally interrupts the proceedings with shouted words and a sudden increase in volume.
“The Skin You’re In” is a good example. The guitar, kind of reminiscent of “My Sharona,” gets an added dose of creepy as Blackpaw Society repeats the lines “Lovely, the skin that you’re in.” Then he gets a lot louder, and it becomes downright terrifying. His best usage of the “quiet to loud” trick is on “Shiver Your Fillings Out,” another extra creepy song. He hammers the melody into your head by repeating the last few words of each song, before the language and melody gets more and more pointed.
On the other hand, “Control” is a fully formed beast, a hulking full-band number with a more rock-influenced sound. As he sings “I can’t control my love,” it feels like the song is a musical version of uncontrollable desire.
Another great change of music comes in “Numerals” parts 1 and 2. Part 1 is solely instrumental, a nice mix of synths, drums and bass, before it leads into part 2, an unexpectedly groovy number that is another album highlight.
The dark depths of this album are still surprising despite the album title, and once again, Blackpaw Society knocks it out of the park.
Top Tracks: “Shiver Your Fillings Out”; “Numerals pt. 2”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)