It’s not every day that you encounter a bearded man wearing a dress singing about the pitfalls of celebrity. Of course, when you listen to Edie Sedgwick‘s new album Things Are Getting Sinister and Sinisterer you can’t actually see Justin Moyer, so you’ll just have to keep that image in your mind. Moyer composes and records the songs — essentially Edie Sedgwick is Justin Moyer.
It’s no surprise that the music on Sinister closely resembles that of his band Antelope: spare and a little funky. Lyrically, though, Edie Sedgwick is worlds apart from Antelope. But before you dismiss the lyrics on Sinister as throwaway, campy sendups of celebrity culture, it’s worth listening for a message in the humor. On “Angelina Jolie” there’s the indictment of adopting kids for the sake of self-promotion: “To all those in the orphanage — but mainly for the cute ones in the orphanage: Diverse persons in rainbow tribe united by paparazzi light.” The rudimentary funk bass and alien keyboard squalls lend the song an air of disquiet. “Rob Lowe” is one of the more memorable tracks for its catchiness and its investigation of the “polymorphous perverse.” It seems to reflect some sort of fascination with the John Hughes brat-pack coterie of young actors but it’s just oblique enough to make you wonder what’s really going on.
The most Antelope-like song would be the politically charged “Bambi/George W. Bush.” There’s a slight polyrhythm going on (3 on top of 4) but it’s still nearly a dance track. It’s got some wordplay around the word “buck” (money? deer?) as it makes its points about the environment and the government. “Sissy Spacek” connects the movie Carrie with feminism via the film’s blood motif. It’s hard to tell whether “Mary-Kate Olsen” is a mugging of the paparazzi’s role in creating waifish female celebrities or whether it’s simply pointing the finger at Mary-Kate herself and her hyper-attenuated body and refusal to accept responsibility for what she’s become.
Sinister manages to keep everything simple musically and layer on top an outsize portion of the Edie Sedgwick style of laughing-at and laughing-with at the same time. The song from which the album takes its name, “Anthony Perkins,” does take on some pretty dark material (AIDS, specifically, which afflicted Perkins) but even when hitting on such morbid themes, Edie Sedgwick manages to make you think a little. It could all be a way of provoking a reaction by attempting to outrage or insult, or it could be just be parody. It could also brilliantly be both at the same time.