Release Date: 03.04.03
Record label: Qdivision records
Big Ups to Massachusetts Smart-Asses
by: matt cibula
Clayton Scoble was the improbably-named fella behind Poundcake, and now the singer/songwriter of Francine. He writes songs with heartbreaking chord changes and an almost perfect sense of what needs to come next after what, and then messes them up with lyrics that just don't make no sense...and I love that. He is the perfect specimen of that genus called The Massachusetts Smart-Ass, a genus that includes some of my dearest friends and, for six years, me. But that power is here used for good, not evil, and results in some funny and sad and sexy and nice and very strange songs.
They're all structured like indie-pop songs, harmless little fun new wave pop songs that couldn't hurt a fly. "This Sunday's Revival" is a sweet Wilco-like number about finding a cool bike and fixing it up, and it's got more hooks than that dude in The Cell who was getting suspended by his back-skin. But who'd write a song these days about fixing a bike, and maybe it's not about the bike after all, and I don't know what it's about really anyway. But I like it a whole lot.
Every song here has its moment of "What the Hell Was That?!?!?" built into it. "Albany Brownout" is an Aimee Mann-ish waltz number with lyrics like "Eighty leagues below / San Bernardino / spit into your mask I'm lit / but game to bask in your retrofit / check C2O and go." This makes no sense, and neither does the central metaphor comparing a failing relationship to "Fake Fireplace Things," and neither does the fact that Scoble spends "Novelty" taunting someone about ice-cream bars in the freezer while talking about how he's "Dahmer-crazy" and how the other person is not quite "a typical cartoon German," but who cares? They're all songs that will stick with you forever, whether you want them to or not.
As for the sound, we're talking about jangle-pop, alt.country, and Pavement all mixed up together. Aaah. Doesn't that sound sweet? You know it does.
Scoble couldn't get any more Scoble-esque than he is here. (His band, by the way, deserves to be mentioned. There, now I've mentioned them.) I don't know if this is his masterpiece, but I'm reserving it a spot in my top 10 list right now. 04-Mar-2003 12:53 PM