Contradictions are sometimes what drives good music, and the more an artist strives to be uncompromisingly direct, the more those inconsistencies shine through. So far, this peculiar comedy/fantasy rock band project known as Heidecker & Wood (Tim Heidecker and Davin Wood) has shown itself to be one of the most joyfully airheaded musical diversions, transcending any kitsch or gimmick and just being fun and funny for those of us who know that some part of schmaltz communicates something gawky and personal and numbly essential. “That’s what dreams are made oooof!” “Whoa-oh, Be good to yourself!” “Don’t mess around with a guy in shades, no more!” The lyrics in Heidecker & Wood songs are similarly peppered with exclamations, leaving just enough room for some sadsloppy part of you to get on board before you laugh.
Peppier than Starting From Nowhere, as teased by the fancy free cover photo, this one is also more surprising. In a way, it feels like a series of montages for fuzzy, opaque 70s and 80s dramadies one would watch in the throes of a cold while home from school (one hopes there will be plenty of videos). Highlight “This Is Life” embodies Danny Aiello cracking his knuckles under a falling chandelier as Jeff Fahey smirks and runs out stage left. Tim really gets that aura of guttural, sweaty heroics in his voice here, and it deserves as much praise as, say, Tim Capello. The bald, cloying, banal, and somehow vulnerable “Coming Home” is almost too much, but hating it is too much yet — it wins out as a palate cleanser.
“Hurricane” and the outro to “What Else Is New” have got to be the jubilantly funniest things I’ve come across all year, the former somehow transporting to sudden grace and genuine beauty when Aimee Mann sings the tune out on a spectral note. “Sunday Man” captures that Wall-era amphitheater blues before turning all “I Want to Know What Love Is”-gospel. I love how there’s even a tasteful Ry Cooder-style instrumental outro for “On Our Own.” It’s the kind of album-rock touch that makes one crush-out, like yours truly on first hearing that 1985 Heart album (thanks Columbia House). You’re dizzy with shallow, easy sensationalism half the time, treating it like background music otherwise. There’s no need to fight it; the muse is half-undressed anyway.
Whereas the last album was for winter vacation and cold comfort, this one has a decidedly more summer traipse and coke-stache grin dichotomy. Old-man rebel music for the guy who thinks he’s still a rebel, it’s likely it won’t get much play outside of people who don’t love the little things in the bad corporate rock of yesteryear, like when “old-timey-movie-guy” Heidecker voices “I’m headin’ down to the safehouse!” at the end of “Getaway Man.” Despite the familiar, accidental-sounding non-sequiturs of the album title or the closer’s chorus (“We talked about the next 10 years for the very first time”), the competent musicianship on display renders it solemn. Bone-dry sessionman rock that’s either fun or stultifying depending on your mood is a tricky proposition, but fans of the TEASGJ sensibility should enjoy it either way. Otherwise, it’d be nice to see it randomly discovered in a used rack next to the Twins OST some day.