The Rotary Downs – Long After the Thrill

The Rotary Downs
Long After the Thrill

When you spend your days at work, struggling to stay awake and fending off death, just about the only thing that makes sense is the utmost importance of the bathroom break. The toilet stall is the oasis of the modern workplace; it’s where you can go to get away from the imperious suits peering over your shoulders, the giggling retards with their smiley-faced back-stabbing, and from the unceasing periodicity of the black vertical line upon the monitor. I wrote this review in a toilet stall, while listening to the Rotary Downs upon a walkman-type contraption. The eerie quiet and paranormal cleanliness of a bathroom in Shaw Industries’ “Little White House” reflect certain qualities found in the Downs’ music, and my understanding of Long After the Thrill was aided by my location.
Long After the Thrill is textbook indie-rock, overtly clever music for overly clever music nerds. It’s the sort of stuff shitballs like me eat up and beg for more after. But this time, I don’t know why, it’s not registering with me. The Rotary Downs certainly possesses numerous indie-rock trackmarks: the whiny speak-sing vocals, lyrics that aim for intelligence and cleverness, guitar noodlings that sometime sound sorta wrong or broken, poor-ass production values that still sound better than anything I could ever wrangle out of a four-track, etc. Those tags could be applied to Pavement, or Sebadoh, or early Sonic Youth, or even the Velvet Underground.
But whereas this formula largely worked (more or less) with some or all of the previously mentioned combos, with the Rotary Downs it simply is not impressive enough. The lyrics, while largely inoffensive, are not that clever or intelligent (they’re more pretentious than anything); the music is decent, sometimes pleasant, but hardly ever too enjoyable; and even the artwork is nondescript. With Long After the Thrill, the Rotary Downs have come up with a pretty mediocre affair; perhaps, to further the homage to Pavement, this record should have been titled Tired and Uninspired. (geez, that’s the lamest thing I’ve ever typed in my life. I’m sure that line’s been used a billion times by fellow fuckhead dipshit critics like myself).
Now back to the bathroom stories. The bathroom I’m sitting in is located in the corporate headquarters of one of the largest carpet companies in the world. This bathroom is cold, sterile, lifeless, completely neutral, and boring, and the only things new that ever come out of here are reconstituted from previous input. All of those things could also be said of the Rotary Downs’ Long After the Thrill.