The Gifted Children – Chinese Food Takeover EP

The Gifted Children
Chinese Food Takeover EP

To say The Gifted Children are prolific would be an understatement. This upstate New York band has 19 albums – mostly EPs – under their belt in addition to several side projects with various band members. No burnout is obvious on this, the band’s latest work, however, as Chinese Food Takeover is an absolute gem, with songs that grow on you immeasurably with every listen.
The immediate comparison would be to Guided By Voices, as this 25-minute EP has 11 songs, many 2 minutes or less. The style of somewhat cryptic vocals and short but catchy bursts of slightly lo-fi sounding rock is comparable as well. But The Gifted Children change their style often enough and play with such talent that they could in no way be called a GBV rip-off band. Combine GBV’s penchant for unique and memorable songs with hints of Jets to Brazil, some Neutral Milk Hotel quirkiness, and a dose of Pavement-esque indie rock, and perhaps you get a sense of this band’s talent.
Immediate comparisons to Jets to Brazil may not be obvious, but check the lyrics to the opener “How Was Your Show?”: “How was your show? / catalog deficiency / use carburetors / you have fake parts / Elegiac landing pad / my own private base / plug me in coach, I think I’m ready!”
Perhaps my favorite tune, “Keith Radford’s Puppet Head” shows off a more rocking feel to the band, and yet it also may be more similar to GBV in style. It contrasts nicely with the mellow, piano-lead “Doppler Sleep Mechanics,” a quiet, almost lullaby-like track that’s very pretty, especially as singer Jeff Suszczynski repeats “just go to sleep now.” And it’s followed by a quiet, slightly folky “Smoke,” which incorporates some smooth jazz-style saxophone.
Even the short song-bits are gems, like the outright gorgeous “Curtains,” which leads nicely into “Chicago – Remedy the Guestlist,” a more experimental piece with soft piano, sax, and odd synthesized percussion that, together, make for a very smooth, almost atmospheric sound. “The Stanchion Gas Credo” is more poppy and up-tempo, with hints of an Elvis Costello-esque piano focus, while the closer, “Skylab Love Scene,” is a more moody, urgent piece that has a wonderful flow to it, a perfect closer. And better to close it here than listen to the minute or so of frightening laughter that’s tacked on to the end of the disc.
It took me just a few songs in to get over the more obvious Guided By Voices comparisons. The Gifted Children are too unique and try too many things to be too closely compared to that similarly prolific band. But fans of GBV will eat this stuff up. The only detriment here is that The Gifted Children have so many albums, it’s hard to know what to try next.