Frog Eyes

Tears of the Valedictorian

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Now four albums in, Northwest Canada-based, Dante's Inferno outfitters Frog Eyes seem less like a band and more like a movement. While the quartet's intentions are suspect, one listen to Tears of the Valedictorian confirms the group's uncanny talent for creating manic, beautiful, and upsetting songs that seem to exist wholly for themselves. Trying to pull any meaning from Carey Mercer's pulpit-pounding rants is a course in futility ("When you bottom the boats/the weeds deign to sigh/but the admiral's chicken/the general's chicken/how painful they rise"), but his conviction is so intense that it both captivates and worries the listener, much like a cogent, holy spirit-possessed homeless person challenging passerby with Bible passages laced with profanity. Musically, the band continues to push the envelope of pop music by speeding it up, chopping it into bite-size psychedelic pieces, feeding it back to themselves, then throwing it up through your speakers. A truly keen sense of melody keeps their twitchy, angular armaments from flying out the window, especially on the gorgeous "Stockades," the Joe Meek-inspired "Idle Songs," and the epic "Bushels," a mammoth piece of work that stomps around in a fit, continuously changing course and descending into a mad scat section that dissipates into an oddly endearing mantra of self-awareness ("I was a singer and I sang in your home"). Indeed.

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