Years ago, before it shrunk, Spin ran a mini-profile on the Radar Bros. My memory is hazy, but I’m pretty sure the writer, whoever it was, used a ketchup metaphor to describe the music. “Like ketchup oozing out of a bottle, so too does the Radar Bros.’s music ooze out your stereo” — something like that. Anyway, weirdest thing: I must have internalized that review somehow because I still word-associate “Radar Bros.” with “ketchup.”
I mention this because, for one thing, I am prejudiced against ketchup. (On fries it’s fine, but burgers and hot dogs? That shit is gross.) I also mention it because it’s a fine and dandy, wish-I’d-thought-of-that way of describing the Bros.’ music: It really does sound like musical ketchup easing its way out from a bottle. (“Musical ketchup” — you know, ketchup that can play guitars and drums and keyboards.) Put simply, this music is slow, the same slow soggy tempo the whole way through.
Which brings us to yet another prejudice of mine: I generally don’t care for slow music. But good slow ones — and of course they exist, “Pale Blue Eyes” by the Velvets, for example, and there must be more — are validated by good lyrics. The lyrics on The Fallen Leaf Pages, the band’s fourth, are suffused with what seems to be a nature theme: lots of stuff about golden creatures of the sea, ants floating in milk, et cetera. The album is full of images that one could conceivably describe as “stupid hippie crap” (if one were a reactionary jerk, of course). There are also a handful of apparently religious references, “pretty angels and their wings,” you know how it goes. “Show Yourself” goes “When you show yourself to all of us/ All of us shall be free.” Are you there, God? It’s us, the Radar Bros.
You know what slow songs with crummy lyrics are good for? Slow dancing. That’s about it. Certainly not listening. If you’re a fan of slow dancing you’ll dig this. Furthermore, if nature/religion imagery seems like your idea of a rewarding art experience (surely that’s what the Bros. were going for, right?), then by all means, pick up a copy of this album. Pick up two. To me, it all sounds like stupid hippie crap.