The music and drug communities have always been closely linked.
Sabbath participated in a particular kind of drug use and that shit
turned out uber intense and awesome. The Chemical Brothers used some
drugs and it ended up being really boring. Whatever pills the Unicorns
are popping up there in the land of Rick Moranis and un-ironic mullets,
the results are pretty wonderful. They’re definitely some kind of
fun-drugs — there’s probably a basement lab where ecstasy, those dot
candies that come on pieces of paper, really good maple syrup, and
super-potent Flintstones vitamins (the kind that got recalled when
eight year olds starting twitching a lot and solving Rubik’s cubes
during naps) are all thrown in a huge kiddie swimming pool and stamped
on by a one-horned mythological creature.
Properly known as Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?,
this sophomore effort from Montreal’s Unicorns might be one of the best
albums that you didn’t know you were waiting for. There’s a bunch of
weird shit going on here so, naturally, there were a bunch of weird
Canadians in the studio banging on stuff and sticking their fingers in
things, but the nucleus of the Unicorns is made up of Nicholas “Niel”
Diamonds and Alden Ginger. These guys toe the line of “really crazy
loveable weirdos” and “pretentious art-school kids toying with our
heads,” but they usually touch down on the right side. Or they just
have me fooled and are having a good laugh right now. Either way, these
doods are definitively smarter than I am and make the kind of music
that reminds me of that with every note.
In general terms, I guess this is lo-fi indie pop of some
sort. But that’s just one big misnomer, really. Although there’s that
soft-spoken lo-fi hum, there’s also a ton of high-tech studio trickery
and effects, which is really what puts this record over the top. And
“indie” doesn’t mean anything anyway, and pop is a category that
includes Justin Timberlake. And although I honestly think Justified
is brilliant, putting that in the same category as this would make my
brain explode. So I suck, and I’m stuck. For some reason, and I can’t
really pinpoint it, I’d like to compare these guys to the Shins. Maybe
just a quieter, weirder version? I don’t know if it’s the knack for
making unexpectedly great pop songs or just being from a place that
sucks, but the bands are lumped together in my mind (and that’s the
highest of compliments … to both groups). A more apt comparison might
be Ween. Or y’know … the Unicorns. Ah, fuck it.
Nearly every song on here is a winner, but a few jump out.
The fifth track, “Jellybones,” uses synth in a way that about eleventy
hundred retro-rip-off bands would sell their vintage jackets to be able
to do. “Sea Ghost” is catchier than the entire Sean Paul album
combined, and on “Inoculate the Innocents” I’m pretty sure the guys
sing, “Somewhere in the asshole of my eye, there’s a muscle that
relaxes when you cry.” I have no idea what the fuck that means, but I
wish this album had been out when it was time to pick a yearbook quote
in high school.
All told, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
rules. The Unicorns have managed to create a fun record with great
songs that don’t tread on conventional pop-song techniques. I certainly
don’t mean for this to read as a declaration that the Unicorns saved
and/or invented music. They did nothing of the sort. But they did make
a record that hasn’t yet left my CD player, and that’s more than good
enough for me.