Woody Whatever – When I Lost, I Left

Woody Whatever
When I Lost, I Left

I was thinking a bit yesterday. Yes, I know it’s an uncommon occurrence, but I was. I had just read some reviews, and noticed how there weren’t that many clever intros. In fact, they were just repeats of tricks I’ve heard before. So, I’ve determined that there are no clever gimmicks left to write in the world. On to the review.
Woody Whatever’s When I Lost, I Left is composed of post-REM jangle, Weezer-esque mood, and quirky punk-inflected vocals, all pulled off with a bright-shiny happiness that makes you forget this is a self-produced, low-fi recording. The opener “Get Inside My Life” is one of the best songs on the album, as it is a prime example of their surprisingly catchy “early 90s meets today” sound. The catchiness is delivered by Eric Schmall’s wispy yet secure vocals, which fit perfectly with this quirky, upbeat music. Unfortunately, there are a few times where they fall dangerously out of key, don’t gel with the music, and are generally harsh on the ears. Thankfully, these songs are a tiny minority. The jangly lead guitar is not a minority on this album, as they delight in a Cake-like emptiness to their sound throughout most of this album.
There are certain exceptions, as in the California-ized rock of “For Beautiful Nothing,” a beautiful foray into keys on “Ginger Suicides,” which is another highlight on the album, the nearly 70s rock of “Citizens Be Warned.” But for sure the oddest track is the stark, keyboard-lead title track, which is 50% silence (you’d have to hear it to understand). The lyrics here are brilliant, tackling social ills in a style that is subtle to the max. Upon reading them, you can catch a glimpse of what they’re trying to say, but it takes some thought to decipher some of these lyrics. There are also some love songs, lost love songs, and other teenage rants, but there is some true talent inherent in these lyrics. The most haunting moment of the album comes when Schmall desperately relates “We’re human! We’re human! Tell Everyone!” during the aptly titled “Tell Everyone.”
This lo-fi rock album has many highlights, but it also has some low points. It features at least one song that I will replay in a cycle of “This song’s cool-I love this song-It’s my favorite song ever-I hate this song-OK I REALLY HATE THIS SONG” (that would be “Get Inside My Life”). A limited release through Blod Records (only 50 records, oddly enough), this will be enjoyed immensely by fans of great indie rock/pop.