Max Wood is a brutal
combination of bad comedian, genius and some sort of beat-spitting robot.
That’s a fancy way of saying he’s a noise-rock artist, but he’s not just a noise-rock artist, and he’s not
obnoxious or pretentious like that tag might imply. Just because his songs
don’t really have melodies, choruses or anything that would make you want to
call them “songs” doesn’t mean there isn’t enough rawness in his words and
fucked-up collage production to comprise arresting music.
Uhhh Sort Of, the eighteen-year-old Wood’s third album as Applied
Communications, sounds exactly like an album about a frustrated
sixteen-year-old dealing with the death of his mother and with the media’s
omnipresence should sound like. Every song is pieced together with toy
keyboards, drum machines, string samples, loud guitars and Wood’s
not-angry-just-disappointed spoken word. A couple minutes of Odelay
flack usually gives way to some brilliant instrumental punch line, momentarily
relieving you from how uncomfortable you feel after listening to some kid talk
about how constantly uncomfortable he is.
What makes listening to Uhhh Sort Of simultaneously
alarming and entertaining is that Wood’s sense of humor is constantly clashing
with his serious frustration. The colorful album art and playful soul samples
tend to argue with his hyper-ironic habit of calling himself out as “a fucking
moron” and jumping on bags full of light bulbs at his shows, but this album is
the impossible-to-ignore argument happening behind you on the subway. That it’s
channeled through a lo-fi nerd obsessed with the comparably troubled Daniel
Johnston or (at least lovelorn) Gary Wilson just makes it that much more
listenable. Not to mention that there are songs at the root of whatever these
three-minute things really are.
Applied Communications website