Monday, March 1, 2010

Review #75: Flipper - Generic (1982)


Year: 1982
Genre: Punk Rock
Noise, Hardcore
Subterranean Records
40 Minutes (Long)
My Rating:

It is March 1st. The snow is slowly starting to melt. A period of change is at hand. This period of change is known as Flipper. Maybe. Anyways, back in 1982, punk was starting to become a little less weird and a little more formulaic. You had your hardcore, "traditional" punk, and new-wave. Innovation was slowly being pushed out for these already-existing archetypes. And I think regular hardcore can still sound good even 30 years later. But by 1982, it was already known what was to be expected. Hard rhythms. Mile-a-minute tempos. Lyrics about suburban angst or politics. Leather jackets, shaven heads or spiked hair, metal studs placed anywhere applicable. Every punk and his brother (if he had one) wanted to sound just like the Sex Pistols or Ron Reyes-era Black Flag or the Circle Jerks. In other words, punk was becoming conformist in its own cliches and ideas and fashion. Then one band came along and challenged the norm. This was before "My War", or before the Butthole Surfers got REALLY weird, or grunge. Flipper. Described by critics of the time everywhere as "loser rock". Off-key vocals. Slow tempos. Little-to-no melody. This style of music STILL turns heads. A conformist will beg you to turn it off. Show no mercy.

Well, what I'm getting at here is that this iz the first full-length album by Flipper. The band had been releasing various 7" singles throughout the first few years of their career, and it finally culminated in this. It's the definitive Flipper album. These are the songs that come to mind when somebody hears of Flipper. The first deliberately slow-and-sludgy punk album. This paved the way for bands like the Butthole Surfers and the Melvins who were heavily influenced by this musical style. The album art is an intended parody of the art for "Yellow" by Gang of Four.

1. Ever
This is a song for the listener. Like most of the others songs here, the slight melody is directed by the bass-guitar. It's a reassuring downer of a song for those of us who feel alone in life, sickened by the order of the world, all-but-completely hopeless for much good to come out of our lives. "Ever see a couple kissing and get sickened by it?" -- Yes. "Ever wish the human race didn't exist and then realize that you're one too?" -- Yes. It's a nihilistic song, but it's really comforting in that aspect. Will assures us that he has felt that way too so much. The hand-claps throughout the song help preserve the rhythm. The perfect song to listen to when you feel like shit.

2. Life is Cheap
A more discomforting take on nihilism. This is seriously one of the most powerfully depressive basslines I've ever heard. Will Shatter sings in harmony with a sped-up version of his own voice. The song's premise is simple -- life is a scam. Unfair, dangerous, pointless, and just strange. The extra voice is like a deformity -- that extra part that didn't ask to be exist in the first place and cries out in the pain of its own existence harder than you ever could. I listened to this song a lot in the months before I left church because it perfectly described how I felt about life then.

3. Shed No Tears
Beautiful melody (it's there, just maybe not to everyone's perception). Bruce Loose sings this one. The song reminds the listener to "shed no tears" for the person who has been killed for what they have chosen to be. The Martyr for choosing to die. The Cop for holding the gun and keeping the prisoners. The Nun for forcing darkness upon her 'flock'. The Suicide for finding greater peace in death. The second half of the song is completely instrumental.

4. (I Saw You) Shine
This song is fucking long. Eight and a half minutes long. Dark, emotional lyrics. Like the song before it, the first half has vocals. The second half is without lyrics or vocals. End of Side 1.

5. Way of the World
One of Flipper's most well-known songs. The bassline is actually somewhat catchy. The basic idea of the song is that the "way of the world" is unfair, biased -- not everyone will get their way in life. And it's not right. First Flipper song I ever heard.

6. Life
A somewhat happy-sounding song that pretty much sums up my feelings on the meaning of existence. Life is about life. That's all. As the song says, I too believe that "Life is the only thing worth living for." -- so appreciate life, because it's the only thing that's real. Bruce sings here. Will joins in too sometimes. I really like the riff.

7. Nothing
Faster than most of the other songs on the album. It's pretty much just a song about Nothing. The riff is pretty cool.

8. Living For the Depression
The fastest song on the album. Only fast song here in a conventional sense, really. Catchy chorus with a neat bass in that part. I believe the song is supposed to uplift a simple lifestyle free from true collapse. The song ends with the shouted line "I'm Not Living My Life to Be... A REAL CHEAP FUCKER LIKE YOU, COP-OUT!!".

9. Sex Bomb
Often said to be the most famous Flipper song. It's also the most experimental one, with lots of saxophone, screaming and yelling instead of vocals, no real lyrical content, and samples and weird sound-effects played over the main riff and beat. It's the second longest song after "(I Saw You) Shine", being over 7 minutes long. This iz where it ends.

A lot of people in the hardcore scene then and even today hated Flipper. They were awkward, depressing, slow, weird, and proud of it. However, Flipper helped save punk rock and keep it great in my opinion. They inspired a still-active onslaught of bands that preserved what in my opinion is the best interpretation of punk philosophy. That, and this music is just really cool. Hell, I have a Flipper button on my jacket (it says "Flipper Rules OK??!!"). This album is honest as hell. But all of this Flipper is starting to disorient my ability to write a coherent review so I think I'm just going to get to my final point now: kdjhadjaksdsal;dasaduhaslmasds,dmaskafsgdfasgd876qeyq3hqwagdasagdasadgjasdgjadgsahd sbd sa dbsab dsadnadbvsavdvadvnsabvdbsvadsandasndbsvan THE END GOOD BYE


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