Think About Life – S/T

Think About Life has to be some sort of divine test. A test of the limits of human patience, of the sincerity of those faithful in the music industry, of the extent to which one’s tiny fluttering tympanic membranes can violently quiver before they burst and relieve the listener from such an auditory hell. What other explanation could there be? Somewhere out there, some greater power is determined to separate the believers from the blasphemers, the status-lovers from the scene-haters. Some god of music, sitting high and detached from our measly planet, has willed Think About Life to form and record a self-titled debut, and he is now sitting back patiently, waiting to see how many hip scenesters, always hot to jock the next Alien8 release, will actually admit to enjoying it. Time will reveal the results of this dastardly experiment, but as of yet, the fact that indie-sensations Wolf Parade have already hand picked the band as a tour opener is a keen indication of how things are likely to turn out.

Band leader Graham Van Pelt seems to have a knack for finding the most irritating, brain-rattling tones any instrument you put in his hands can create. From the initial pin-pricks of “Paul Cries,” the album unfolds as a collection of some of the most shrill, piercing, and headache-inducing keyboard and guitar tones ever put to tape. Toss in the sad fact that not one of the three potential vocalists yipping at any given point can actually sing (and I’m not even going to elaborate regarding their attempts at harmonizing), and soon the only jangling percussion one desires to hear is the rattling of the Advil one’s so desperately trying to shake out of the bottle.

Could it all really be that bad? I’m tempted to spout a stubborn, stiff-lipped “YES,” but it would be unfair to deny Think About Life its few moments of clarity and likeableness. Drummer (and album art contributor) Matt Shane is probably the band’s only saving grace, pattering out staccato disco-punk beats that are really the only thing catchy about the whole album. Van Pelt stumbles into good standing a scant few times; however, the only memorable (and pleasant) offerings is the first half of quirk-fest “In Her Hands” and the surprisingly all-round decent album closer, “Blue Sun.” Interestingly enough, the only time the band seems to truly coalesce into a groovy, dance-worthy whole is on the track featuring guest rapper Subtitle. “What the Future Might Be” finds the rapper’s rhymes nestling well with the band’s sound, though it’s a bit troubling that the reason it stands out from the rest of the album is not because it features rapping but because it lacks the presence of the other vocalists and the usual brain-pain keyboard work.

It’s hard to say who will enjoy this album. Maybe to the tone deaf, it might sound lush and pleasing, or maybe it’s crafted to appeal to the corpses its unholy racket could surely raise from the dead. While the aim of Think About Life is clearly to provide some backdrop for which to shake one’s booty indifferently, for those who are sitting still, really listening for the sake of music appreciation, the only movement it truly prompts is that of a high-speed finger high-tailing it for the eject button. With a moniker that suggests sitting back introspectively and contemplating one’s existence, while Think About Life is vibrating the nails out of the very framework of your home, it becomes difficult to think about anything other than what the hell Think About Life’s members were thinking about when they thought this album would be an entertaining debut.