reviewed by Michael Thomas
A lich, if you watch any Adventure Time, is a pretty frightening creature. It can live forever, if it wants to, by placing part of all of its soul into another object. The lich in Wayne Death is also called Wayne Death, and he is a metaphor for a person Smokes’ Nick Maas once associated with. Maas figuratively placed too much of his soul into another, and as a result, Wayne Death became much too powerful.
Given the creepy subject matter, the atmosphere of Wayne Death fits perfectly. At times it’s a low din, like the lich muttering in your ear just as you begin to realize you’ve been possessed. At other times, it’s full-on roaring, smothering you in dark ideas. The album is darker than dark, but at the same time, you can feel that Maas is fighting the lich and reclaiming what is his.
There’s a lot to process in Wayne Death. The glam-rock, almost punk energy of many of the songs thicken the air of the music, and it’s easy to presume that everything Maas sing about is angry, but sometimes he’s battling his own self’s less-than-kind words. In “Saturn,” for instance, you can easily get lost in the rock and roll energy of it all. But then you realize a voice is repeating “Nobody knows you, nobody wants to.” Eventually that’s amended to “Nobody wants to, but me” and the idea of co-dependency becomes very clear. “There must be some escape,” Maas yells, before the song ends with the repetition of “Everybody likes you but me.”
To better understand Wayne Death, listen to “Lich,” which serves as almost a glam-punk theme song. He describes exactly what he’s all about, like the whole “putting his soul into other things” aspect. That established, you’ll feel his awful presence in “Handsome,” which is not at all flattering. You’ll hear “Handsome like blood” and “Handsome like a drug” repeated and a long psychedelic outro to leave you alone with your thoughts.
“4souls” seems to be about how another person can warp your perspective as the song speaks of dualities, from a room with two windows showing two different times of night to two witches on the same broom chasing vastly different things. In “Courage,” two very different things are at war. In between sung lines, Maas sarcastically uses an obnoxious teenager voice to go over two ridiculous scenarios.
If you think about it hard enough, there’s probably a lich around you somewhere. Remember not to lose too much of yourself, lest you have another Wayne Death on your hands.
Top Tracks: “Iodine”; “Saturn”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)