It’s Shit Bug, and it’s a new album by Guts Club! This Club, the project of one Lindsey Baker, returns from the depths to our world with this, a Shit Bug. And right after an Arm Wrestling Tournament? I wouldn’t follow her anywhere, let alone join her club. But from afar, on record, the path cut by this Guts Club is appreciable as a dirty, pretty, and serious walk into tangled, wilting contemporary folk. Contemporary in that Baker has something about a common environment figured out; we live here like bugs in sugar and shit. There’s a wish for death around every corner; it’s both meant and not. Who doesn’t feel that every time anything happens?
Each song is a damp thornheap discolored by graffiti, smelling three ways of pine, paint, and dirt. The lazy charisma of a character wafts our way: seated at the back of a memorized school bus, a pimpled and angry teen, logging everything in a little journal.
When Shit Bug includes piano or pedal steel alongside Baker’s insistent and careful guitar, as it often does, a song that may have been about embarrassment or hate becomes a song about embarrassment, hate, and some haloed, masochistic nostalgia. On “Burn Pile,” for example, Baker takes what is essentially a creaky, bluesy exercise in lazy vitriol and contorts it into a baked marvel. “Ugly Igloo” and “Shit Bug” do similar things, both highlighting Baker’s shaking, tentative voice and charming-by-way-of-gross lyrics. A muted trumpet opens and closes “Whale Legs” (if you know what I mean), a nice bookending effect that contrasts, and therefore calls to attention, how clever, sad, and fucked the song’s lyrics really are, all if it still set atop a cascading, classically folksy guitar line.
The strain in her voice, and her control of it, of what sounds like loss of control, plants the feet of Baker’s weird songs in the doorways of both the odder end of 2000s folk punk and the current renaissance of écriture féminine in indie folk. Her songs, at first, seem sharp and brittle, burnt in a sun, but there is pith and even some liquid under the bark. Jokes, jabs, and pain play along the edges of a song, then make their way back into a primordial haze of image. These are detritus songs, packed with those bits of memory and melody that wander and converge, stuck on a branch or in a drain.
Guts Club deals with those funny and kind of gross things gluing the everyday to the next. Let’s all laugh and look a little crazy in the eyes.