Friday, February 29, 2008

everything's perfect

i'll tell you what - if you're sick of hearing about team robespierre, you best point your browser elsewhere, because i am so fucking in love with this band that it's scary. in lieu of going to their showpaper benefit tonight (sorry guys, but it's cold and bushwick is far away), i'm gonna rap at all y'all about the excellence of their debut album, everything's perfect. you might remember that i was at its release party (along with matt & kim!), and i really haven't stopped listening to it since. though i've been listening to them for over two months (since i picked up their fake gold sampler at the yeasayer show), i still haven't really nailed down what, exactly, i love about them so much, but i know that i fucking do.

a team robespierre song is, fundamentally, a short debilitating burst of energy, released as a mix of anger and joy that provokes little of the former, and much of the latter. on everything's perfect, they tackle subjects such as gasoline ("gasoline"), the 88th precinct ("88th precinct"), and nuclear fallout ("plutonium pigs"), and, fervently, brooklyn. fiercely proud of their home borough (if you weren't aware, you will be at the end of any team robespierre show, since they announce their origins two to four times during any set), team robespierre is justifiably resentful of its inevitable gentrification, a threat not only to brooklyn's diversity and independent spirit, but also its rent prices. currently, my favorite song on everything's perfect (most of the tracks have been my favorite at one point or another) is "mal de mer," a crude but emphatic call to arms against imported dicks with a cleverly turned chorus: "what we're gonna do is stage a coup / against these pricks they make me sick." the team's diy aesthetic and casual anti-establishmentism is their guiding light, a mindset which their (universally-shared) aversion to work stems from. one of the album's punkier cuts, "ha ha ha," is a ballsy anti-work anthem about wanting to be a hearththrob, and "solid gold" is an glitzy all-keyboard jam about "waiting for our break / so some money we can make." one olfactory byproduct of the team's lifestyle is an irregular showering schedule, which was overpowering in december, is coyly joked about on "death smells" ("death smells / i do too" is the song's closing lyric), but i'm also totally in love with its chorus, the nonsensical "death / smells / zombie / christmas," shouted at customary full volume for no reason other than the joy of it all.

so, in case you're just joining us, i'm a stingy bastard (listen - who else actually tells you when it's worth spending money on an album, instead of just downloading it?), and one thing i always looked for when buying a record is its length. unless i was desperate to have it, i wouldn't bother buying it if it clocked in under, say, 42 minutes, cuz i would totally feel ripped off otherwise. as i've grown older, thankfully, i've learned that length really has little to do with an album's quality, and that my brain can't really listen to more than 50, 55 minutes of the same band straight (i've only listened to illinoise all the way through, like, twice). what really seals the deal is my overwhelming love for everything's perfect, which scoots past at barely 18 minutes long. the single "88th precinct" is their longest tune, at just under three minutes, and only one other track is over two, yet i don't feel shorted. everything's perfect is a full album, and though i do frequently wish it was longer, that's because i don't want the party to stop when it does. one good thing about their preferred song length - it makes it hella easier to dance to. i don't know if i could spazz out as hard as is necessary for longer than three minutes without dying (metaphorically). though team robespierre's songs are short, they rarely feel underdeveloped, and it makes you wonder if it's harder to make an awesome short song than an awesome normal length song. for "black rainbow," a superb track that isn't quite 1:30, all the essential song elements are present, and there's even space for a little improvisation. usually, i find myself thinking that songs are too long, that they drag and my mind wanders, and it's really nice that that isn't the case with everything's perfect. short, sweet, and, i daresay, perfect, it's an easily digestible album that rewards long past its 18 minutes.

lyrically, everything's perfect is exciting, a little ferocious, and totally adorable (in that endearingly self-righteous way), especially because it's hard to decipher a lot of the words without the album's helpful lyric sheet. the ecstatic catharsis that accompanies any public enjoyment of team robespierre's music is what really sells the band though. just look at this photo, one of the many that sums up how intense the team is live. everybody sweats, everybody dances, some people crowd surf, and everyone runs on a lot of fucking adrenaline. i'd like to borrow a line from the hold steady here: "people touching people when they don't even know you," as it defines a live team robespierre experience, a jumbled mess of energy and euphoria. the team's loose approach to instrumentation and avid appreciation for multiple vocalists make their songs perfect for joint band-audience participation, and you will likely find yourself dancing with a member of team robespierre if you're anywhere near the front. their enthusiasm is infectious, yes, but their music is so provocative and addictive that it's hard to tell if the crowd goes more nuts when a member of the team jumps into their midst, or whether their frantic dancing has reached a sustained climax. don't expect to go home fresh and clean after one of their inimitably awesome live shows.

the moral of the story? everything's perfect rocks. go see team robespierre live.

"88th precinct" & "mal de mer"

"88th precinct"

update: good thing i ended up staying home last night. man, that fucking sucks.

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