Logan Whitehurst and the Junior Science Club – Goodbye, My 4-Track

First things first, this is nothing like you would expect it to be. For those of you who don’t already know, Logan Whitehurst is the drummer and backup singer of the Velvet Teen, a band that creates beautifully lush and dreamlike pop-rock soundscapes that are virtually irresistible. For his side project, Logan Whitehurst and the Junior Science Club, Whitehurst has assembled a sort of indie-rock all-star cast, featuring members of Death Cab for Cutie, Pedro the Lion, Tsunami Bomb, the Frisk, Asahi, the Roots of Orchis, Albrot, Toasterhead, and numerous others. But whatever expectations you may have developed after such a description of this new project, you may as well squeeze them out of your brain right now, because this one is a bit peculiar.
Whitehurst’s goofy energy, a side of him that is repressed while working on material for the Velvet Teen, is given full creative control while playing around with the Junior Science Club. You can tell he is enjoying himself every second of the way, and that he isn’t concerned about selling slews of records. Instead, he seems happy to use any clout he has earned with his other band to make his more abnormal musical pursuits available to anyone who will listen.
In terms of musical structure, the songs are consistently upbeat and chipper, but scattered all over the musical map. There are accordion-laced waltzes, beat-heavy raps, upbeat jangly pop, and bits of everything that could possibly rest somewhere in between. Live instruments play cat and mouse with electronic ones to create an oddly organic and warm feel.
Lyrically, Whitehurst is a bit…well…examples would probably be the best way to explain this. “The Volcano Song” is an educational little ditty about how volcanoes are formed, while “The Robot Cat” is a goofy little rap about building an army of mail-order robot cats. “Happy Noodle vs. Sad Noodle” is an infectiously fun song that tells the story about Happy Noodle, a carefree being who lives a relaxed life, and Sad Noodle, a successful but stressed out creature, and how the two end up battling it out in a duel to the death. The examples go on and on, with characters that range from ice cream men, to Mr. Pants, to fish, to werewolves, but you’ll have to hear it for yourself. There are even a couple of vaguely “normal” songs, including the perfectly silly pop of “How Ya Doing, Emily?” and “Goodbye, My 4-Track.”
Mixed in amongst the 22 tracks is a spattering of skits. In all honesty, you would expect this not to work, but somehow it does. The mock advertisement known as “A Word From Farkle” is just one twisted example, and the combination skit/song “Monkeys are Bad People” that is tucked away at the very end of the album is absolutely hilarious.
It is rare that an album this downright silly manages to remain consistently fun rather than wearing thin part way through or coming off as dumb right from the start, but somehow Logan Whitehurst and the Junior Science Club pull it off. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, plop this one into the stereo. If you manage to listen to the entire thing without cracking a smile or laughing out loud, you may as well consider yourself doomed to a future of utter melancholy.