It’s hard to think of any rock album that has opened with a better couplet than the debut album by local punk quartet Muldoon: “Concerning the imminent hiatus of Muldoon/I know you’ll all agree that it won’t come too soon.” With one sardonic stroke of his songwriting pen, group frontman Jerid Morris gives Muldoon mythic power and then punctures the myth he’s created.
Since the advent of punk three decades ago, critics have endlessly blathered on that the punk revolution’s unspoken message was that anyone could play this music. It wasn’t the exclusive domain of stuffy virtuosos, but was accessible to inspired amateurs. But few punks have brazenly lifted the curtain to expose — and ridicule — their own creative process the way Morris does here.
A Coat of Arms
On the album’s second track, “Coat of Arms,” he refers to Muldoon as a group of “imposters” and takes self-referential songwriting to previously unscaled heights: “This is the record we made/these are the songs that made the grade,” later adding: “We buy guitars we can’t play/we feign excitement on stage/we shit out a song in one day.” Muldoon doesn’t see anything heroic about what it does, and it refuses to to let you jump to false conclusions.
You have to admire someone so unimpressed with his own work, and Morris consistently reveals himself to be a performer simultaneously willing to unleash his deepest angst and critique the way he expresses that angst. While Muldoon can’t quite match the meta-explosion of this album’s first two tracks, it deftly veers from mathematical guitar arpeggios to roaring, overdriven assaults, with the screaming fury of “Here’s To Going!” only one of several highlights. It’s a tribute to the clever perversity of this promising band that a track called “A Maudlin Medley” is not the least bit maudlin. •