Release Date: May 16, 2011
Record label: Moshi Moshi Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
“Is there anyone awake/ I am the only one who believes in staying up late?” asks James Friley (a.k.a. Idiot Glee), and there is something about this line that encompasses Idiot Glee’s music. The sentiment, in itself, is not uncommon — I can’t help imagining the myriad teens from Pump Up The Volume, each individual in the darkness connected, an imaginary community, through Christian Slater’s anti-authoritarian angst — though Slater’s anger and teen horniness are little in evidence.
A classically trained pianist who first tickled the ivories at the tender age of 7, 23-year-old James Friley split his teenage years between practicing with his garage band, Bedtime, and composing material for solo piano. But it wasn’t until he picked up a cassette copy of Pet Sounds at a local flea market in 2008 that Friley heeded his true calling as an indie pop auteur par excellence, rebranding himself under the handle of Idiot Glee. On his debut LP, Paddywhack, this one-boy act brings together two incredibly disparate styles—nightclub piano crooning and loop-based sampledelica—to create a collection of tunes that sounds like nothing else in modern pop (no, really).
James Friley aka Idiot Glee’s life could be taken straight from a TV show. On the one hand, his upbringing was a clean one. From his strict Mormon upbringing in Kentucky, Friley would often accompany his father to work on court TV and heck, he didn’t even start to use swear words till he was 17. On the other hand, James was quite a rebellious child, often channelling his teenage angst at his mother, sneaking out of his home, finding church life boring and not really bothering with his school work.
Rapidly gaining notoriety outside of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region, the music scene in the college town of Lexington has made quite a reputation for itself in recent years. The eclectic, creative community has harbored equally unique bands and projects—the most prolific of which is Idiot Glee. This moniker identifies Kentucky native James Friley’s one-man, dreamy piano-pop outfit that has gained a hefty following at home and abroad.
Gee whiz! 23-year-old James Friley, aka [a]Idiot Glee[/a], seems plucked from another time, back when marks on dance cards begat notches on bedposts and a swell evening at the hop was the key to everlasting love. His debut makes like Wes Anderson leading a barbershop quartet with voices rich as full-fat milk, blissed-out organs echoing the glory days of a now-shabby ballroom. Problem is, there’s a dearth of ideas here that means the whole shebang clings to cloying, torturously repetitive pastiche rather than doing anything particularly innovative.