Tuesday, July 8
Summer Jams from Mash-up Man
Artist: Girl Talk
Album: Feed the Animals
Comments: Forget the stupid fashion, the faux-intelligence, the holier-than-thou attitude and the general douchebaggery of the hipster culture. At the end of the day, all the bespectacled, scarf wearing people of the world really want to do is dance.
This is where Girl Talk comes in. A DJ who specializes in the subtle, copywrite-violating art of mash-ups, Girl Talk set the indie world on fire two summers ago with Night Ripper, an album full of rapid fire amalgamations of current and recent mainstream pop hits (Ludacris, Lil John, T.I., Amarie, etc.) and rock songs ranging from the hyper-popular (Boston's “More Than a Feeling,” for example) to the more obscure (Neutral Milk Hotel's “Holland 1945”). Of course, trying to describe this album on paper is to rob it of its magic; Night Ripper is more of an experience than anything else, a project that appeals to both misanthropic music nerds and sexy people who like to rub their bodies together.
On Girl Talk's most recent album, Feed The Animals, it's more of the same. Take, for example, the opening track “Play Your Part (Pt. 1).” Just listening to it casually, one can hear the Purple Ribbon All Stars, The Unicorns, Boston (again!), Temple of the Dog, “Walk it Out,” Pete Townshend, Twisted Sister, Ludacris and Birdman living together and thriving as a dance track. If it sounds kind of like a mess, that's because it is. But as far as messes go, it's as well coordinated and tightly structured as any mess I've ever heard.
Like Night Ripper, the best parts of Feed The Animals aren't the individual tracks, but individual sections of songs. Because the whole thing has a strong “pop music with ADD” feel to it, it's impossible to pick out where one track ends and another beings, and as such one has to listen to the movements that last more than 30 seconds to provide hints as to how the album progresses. For example, I couldn't name more than two tracks of Night Ripper, but I can tell you the best listen on the album is the collision of Elton John's “Tiny Dancer” and Notorious B.I.G's “Juicy.” It's an absurd moment, but one that works because of sheer bravado.
And there is plenty of that on Feed the Animals. Take, for example, the aforementioned mash up of Temple of the Dog and Birdman, the later giving the former a level of grand triumph and a sense of humor, which is one of the cooler movements of the album. Elsewhere, Jay-Z and Radiohead meet up, combining “Roc Boys” and “Paranoid Android,” into one dense boast of a song. This all makes for a very fun listen. Dorks and average folks alike can have a lot of fun just listening and trying to pick out as many references as possible.
That being said, Feed The Animals fails somewhat as a dance album. While just as overloaded with music as it's more successful predecessor Night Ripper, Feed the Animals is a more laid back album. Which is not to say that it is slow or boring, just that it feels less urgent. The songs being mixed are more mainstream this time around, heavy on Ludacris, Lil Wayne, and various stadium rock acts like Bon Jovi, Styx and Journey, but even with more universal points of reference it's hard to imagine people really getting down to this. I am aware that we live in an ADD culture, but I'd like to think people have the patience to listen to a three minute pop song.
So as a project, a puzzle to be observed and figured out, Feed the Animals is great fun. I can see myself playing this for the rest of the summer, putting it on at parties impressing my friends. Hell, I can even see them dancing to it. I just won't be surprised if we don't make it more than four tracks in. Hipsters want to dance, but not as much as they want to be in their rooms alone with their headphones.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Key Tracks: What's the point?
Buy, Steal, Skip: You can download the album now from illegalart.net. Girl Talk is currently offering the album using the Radiohead “Pay whatever the fuck you want” model.