The Visible Men – In Socks Mode

The Visible Men
In Socks Mode

The Visible Men are led by two former members of swing revival band The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and they sound nothing like that project. They are comprised of two constant members in pianist/singer Dustin Lanker and bassist Dan Schmid with help from a couple of drummers. Lanker has written songs full of bitingly snide lyrics, but he also keeps the mood light and doesn’t take himself to seriously. Lanker also shows off his leanings of jazz and classical with his piano playing that he will throw in for some flair. Most of these songs are set at moody paces, but the music and lyrics will lift it out of despair.
“Dial Tone” starts the disc off with a twinkling piano and walking bass part. The piano stylings change from playfully rocking to mellow classical jazz flourishes, while Lanker uses a medium croon to pass along the humerous lyrics. “Blow Shit Up” carries a darker mood and also a dark sentiment on the way of human nature itself as well. It is taken at a slow, stark pace, enhancing the mood and creating a downer. Lanker has some cascading distorted notes flowing out of his keyboard that is put to good effect.
“Hall of Fame” is a rather amusing tale of a failed relationship that the male character doesn’t want to end. Lanker’s vocal stylings work to a big advantage, making the pain in the song more evident. The music accompanying this song is playful, and the piano and keyboard work is very enjoyable. “Semen Factory” starts off with some classical type of piano and eventually morphs into a silly little romp of a song. It has some very humerous lyrics like “Cause if I needed sex / I could pay for it / or if I was a teenage Christian / I could pray for it / I don’t care what anyone thinks / I pull my pud like Leon Spinks.” The song has more lyrics like that throughout the song and is a little Randy Newman-esque. “King Shit” is a rather darker song bitingly sarcastic song with a depressed tone. It has the wonderful chorus of “But at least I’m the master / of my own rathole / that’s right I’m King Shit down in turdland / everyone worships me / yeah right, yeah right.” It has a very dramatic tone and comes off pretty funny.
This is a disc full of distinct pop songs with some sarcastic, dry songwriting. Lanker’s approach is a little difficult upon the first couple of listens, and the lyrics tend to annoy rather than amuse. After a couple of spins it becomes more enjoyable and the lyrics come across as more pointedly funny, but it takes a while for the humor to show itself. The music is a little loungey, and Lanker’s vocals fit that style perfectly. The disc is pretty subdued and a little drowsy, but there are some mighty fine songs and performances to enjoy.