This four-song release from We Leave at Midnight — all locals except for Austinite frontman John Dailey — isn’t nearly so straightforward as its name.
Dailey’s mellow Mike Love mannerisms on “Law of Club and Fang” belie the venom in the lyrics. “I don’t want to hear a goddamn word come from your mouth,” he demands. The only musical indicator of unrest for most of the song is Chris Guerra ‘s unhinged Old West whorehouse piano, but after the multitracked barbershop quarteting fades out in favor of passive-aggressive guitar snarl, Dailey’s screaming along. And then, as quick as it came, all the anger’s gone again, replaced by twinkling, reconciliatory keyboard.
Tito’s bass line on “The Horrible and Miserable Polymorphously Perverse” moves from early ’70s powerpop to mid-’60s Motown while the overlapping keyboards, guitars, and vocals condense three day’s worth of oldies-station playlists into a schizophrenic four minutes, culminating in a megaphoned call-and response, a la “Yellow Submarine.” The lyrics are still abstractly hostile: “You go nah nah nah nanah but it don’t mean shit,” Dailey says, concluding a doowop-backed tirade.
The acoustic twang of comparatively simple “Park Your Meters” draws a spirited “Whoo” from Dailey before it builds to some nearly psychedelic fretboard stuntwork. The restraint shows the band can make do with a stripped down arrangement, but it’s not necessarily in their best interest to.
“The Cow in Capo Time” brings back the nearly proggy multipart song structure, combining seemingly every element used on the album so far plus sleigh bells, but Dailey sounds happier about it. “I never though that life could be so simple till you crawled into my arms,” he says. Maybe so, but We Leave at Midnight sound best when they complicate things. — Jeremy Martin