Who You Are Now Is Not What You Were Before (2005)
i have mixed feelings about this one, mostly because of the torrent of bullshit i encountered during the post-production phase. a botched mastering job (or three of them, to be precise) was only the beginning.
this is more of my very un-hip take on quasi-electronica, and maybe some of my feelings of ambiguity stem from the fact that it isn’t much of a departure from GROWING SIDEWAYS. similar to what happened with TEMPORARY AMNESIA and KEEP YOUR SCARS, there wasn’t really any break between the two albums. the day after i mixed “you go away”, i recorded skinny ditch and a whole new album was underway.
this one does have a different feel about it, however subtle the differences may be. things are a little less skeletal. there’s more bitterness, more nasty words, more fake wurlitzer electric piano, more bass lines, and more variation in the drum loops. this time, every sound that isn’t coming from my throat is made by the korg triton synth, aside from a brief fender rhodes cameo (there’s no guitar at all), and i pushed my voice up much higher in the mix than i ever had before. i don’t know why i did that, because some of the singing is pretty far from my best, but it is what it is.
at the other end of the spectrum, i mixed the low end pretty conservatively because i was expecting the professional mastering job to boost the bass a bit like it did the last time. of course, i ended up having to master the thing myself, and i didn’t feel like going back and remixing everything all over again. so in some places the bass maybe isn’t as loud as it could be.
i don’t think the album as a whole flows as well as GROWING SIDEWAYS, but i do like most of the songs. the girl who inspired some of the songs on that album came back into my orbit while i was recording this one, and she was the source of most of the bitterness because half of the songs had been recorded before we “made up”, and i was still a little pissed. the bitterness is most explicit in stultify, two cherries in an ashtray and the dog is in the diamond’s mouth. there’s also a pretty nasty shot at the amazing disappearing “girl who took the pack of cigarettes off my hands” in the otherwise middling kiss the bullets that might be one of my favourite lyrics on the album. most of the rest of the songs aren’t about anyone in particular.
the last thirty seconds or so of burglar for hides are a series of sublime melodic accidents that combine to form one of my favourite moments on the album. another is mascara tears, and there’s a moment in the middle of the song where my microphone captures a car driving by outside but it somehow sounds like a distant synthesizer moan or something, which was a nice little unexpected touch. i like most of the lyrics, which are sort of a continuation and refinement of what i was doing on the last album (and the missing “s” in needles to say is intentional). really, there isn’t anything in particular that strikes me as being overly bad here, aside from some of the singing on kiss the bullets and a few other tracks. i just don’t know how well it all works as an album. perhaps time will tell where this one fits into the bigger picture. it does at least have some fun cover art to recommend it — a woman with udders as rendered by my sister erin when she was eleven or twelve.
here’s a fun little tidbit: back when i was still wasting my time sending cds out to record labels, one a&r guy responded (which wasn’t something that normally happened) and told me that this cd reminded him of a more stripped-down version of U2. i didn’t quite get that…i don’t think bono would ever sing about puking and passing out on the floor of an inflatable house named love, only to wake up the next day hung-over to discover that it was an advanced self-cleaning model and had disposed of his vomit while he slept. but maybe that’s just me.
good enough is not good enough
two cherries in an ashtray
eleven letters will spell the end of you
needles to say
vengeance for the disaffected
in a dream i told you this
the diamond is in the dog’s mouth
the dog is in the diamond’s mouth
frigid fuzzy blanket
kiss the bullets
burglar for hides
the one i left to drown