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The Visible Men: Chock Full of Puns and Edgy Polkas

Posted by October 7th, 2005 No Comments »

The Visible Men – Love:30
Leisure King/Dang Dung Records

By Kasey Anderson

Drawing comparisons between artists is often regarded as a shortcut around saying anything constructive or critical about an artist or record, but, when the shoe fits…

If Ben Folds lost every interesting vocal idiosyncrasy he possesses, found an organist who could mirror his schizophrenic piano prowess, then focused primarily on writing themes for tightrope walkers and dinner-theatre performers, this is the album he’d make.

Whether the above “critique” is a positive one or not lies in the eye of the beholder. Do you like polka but wish it were a bit “edgier?” Do you wish Weird Al would ditch the shtick and make a “real” record? Spend sleepless nights wondering why Ben Lee never penned a line as clever as “I hate you / I really don’t, but it sounds funny / could that be because you said it to me, honey?” Well then, this is the record for you.

Eventually, unless one is an avid fan of puns, Love:30 tends to grate on the nerves, which is not to say the record is devoid of enjoyable moments. In an era where listeners are flooded by earnest, frank, confessional singer-songwriters and bombastic rock outfits, the Visible Men provide a much-needed respite from acts who take themselves too seriously. “Stage Fright” is a slithery crawl through a performer’s acute sense of self-awareness; “Guilt Trip” meanders its way through subject matter befitting such a title; “Paper Cup” is a seven-minute paean to an attention-starved starlet.

It all fits together well enough, but the end result is disappointing. The vocals are muddled, the arrangements stale, and, after a while, the jokes get old. Much the same way a comedian must hone his act, one can’t help but think that, if The Visible Men had skimped a bit more on the filler and saved the best punch lines, they’d have delivered an excellent album. Unfortunately, what they’ve given us is a severely mediocre album that isn’t as impressive as the sum of its parts. – (5.5/10)

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