Impeccable Blahs, the fourth album from Brooklyn’s Say Hi to Your Mom, is expressly designed to piss off English majors — or, as they’re known between ages 22 and 29, temps. (I kid, English majors, I kid.) Anyone who actually paid attention in Brit Lit 101 knows that vampires aren’t just goofy monsters who can’t pronounce the letter W; they’re deeply symbolic representations of the effects of sexual and social repression during the Victorian era. Sometimes a fang isn’t just a fang, y’know? And because post-’60s American life has essentially been dominated by a return to Victorian ideals (stop me if you’ve heard this one before), Bram Stoker’s Dracula is just as relevant now than it ever was.
But Say Hi to Your Mom ain’t having none of that. “Impeccable Blahs is a record about vampires,” the liner notes say. “Not creepy, goth vampires but rather people just like you and me who happen to get their nourishment from drinking blood.” Huh wha? But … how can this be an album about vampires if you’re stripping them of all their great metaphorical richness? They just “happen to get their nourishment from drinking blood”? Why even make that claim in the first place? Were the members of Say Hi to Your Mom not aware of the vampire’s lofty place in fin de siècle literature? Don’t they know what vampires signify? They might as well have said in the liner notes that Impeccable Blahs is about Count Chocula; the album would have turned out exactly the same.
All right, forgive me. I know I take this shit too seriously. (English minor, by the way.) This isn’t a nineteenth-century novel; it’s a goddamn rock album, and a pretty good one at that. The lyrics, to my unending relief, aren’t really about vampires at all, although there’s a bunch of vampires in them, if that makes sense. Instead they’re about … I dunno, stuff. Playing Battleship and Scrabble. People who hog the blanket on the red-eye. Blogs that predict “brand new indie-rock hits” (talk about a sop to your target demographic). The lyrics’ detailed concreteness is probably the best part of Blahs.
Sound-wise, this album is less dinky and self-consciously lo-fi than its predecessors. The buzzing synth chord progressions are still there for texture, as are the occasional chirping synth hooks. But there are more, bigger-sounding guitar songs here, such as the riffy, catchy “Sad, But Endearingly So” and “Sweet Sweet Heartkillers.” Lead singer (and Say Hi to Your Mom brainchild, and Euphobia Records founder) Eric Elbogen even busts out of his low, Ira Kaplan-esque mush-mouth song-speak on the soaring, out-of-nowhere hook of “Snowcones and Puppies.” That said, I wish the hooks weren’t so few and far between. But to these guys’ eternal credit, their record is overall so pleasant and inconsequential and impeccably goofy that I don’t really mind. I’ve even come to terms with its less-than-rigorous vampire scholarship.