Goodbye Goodbye

[Other People; 2015]

Styles: pop, lo-fi
Others: 18+, Dean & Inga, F.A.G. Diarrhea Cult

With 2014’s shit-opus Internecine Dream, F.A.G. Diarrhea Cult wore their gauche influences (“New York, New York”), personas (“It’s Ashlee”), and sexual frustrations (“Crying When I Cum”) on their mud-crusted t-shirt sleeves, offering six sonically disorienting helpings of lo-fi, lowbrow pop music composed for squalid and lonely spaces. Returning in 2015 as Goodbye (complete with new Twitter handle @goodbyevery1), the duo has enunciated the dialectical terminus of absolute recoil. Not quite here but certainly not there, their “debut” for Nicolas Jaar’s Other People finds them abandoning the Cult’s aggressive sense of humor and, through genuine pop music, arriving at something paradoxically funnier and more aggressive.

Goodbye is subtle. Comic fixation on sex acts and bodily fluids are gone, leaving the loneliness and awkwardness behind as shreds of feeling for the listener to interpret as genuine or feigned. The open roads and empty spaces of Americana are thematic centers of focus and the setting of poignant ballads like “Open Roads” and “We’ll Be Free.” These don’t necessarily feel inauthentic in isolation, but in the spirit of absolute recoil, Ashlee singing about being an “Honest Woman” projects backward and problematizes everything. “And when I lied to him/ I was being honest,” she sings, refocusing on romantic anxiety before retreating into the abstraction of the frontier: “I’m as pure as the open plains.” Whether you understand the “open plains” as a folksong metaphor or as the real former home of violently repressed human and nonhuman populations, there is certainly a mythic lack of purity that resides in them. The colonial reverse-empathy of “Suffer” makes for a seriously good pop song, but in its immediacy, it demands to be scrutinized. That aside, to ask precisely which elements are and are not genuine is to miss the point.

Sans Sinatra covers, Goodbye shares the songwriting sensibility of Internecine Dream, accenting a loose simulation of pop structure with paranoiac electronics and nauseating digital production quirks. Between dramatic panning and mixing, this album moves in the direction of the latter, counteracting the songs’ appeals to musical grandeur with elements of material inaccessibility. Some production choices are probably arbitrary, but “Image Of Ur Choice” is a great example of how deliberate this can sound, as it combines slap bass with auto-tune and somehow retains overall simplicity. The album’s instrumental intro and outro do nothing if not to situate this entire sonic mess within the paradigm of digital hypnagogic experimentation.

Still, text echoes across the chasm of digital distortion. Like the titular “Ring” of the album’s second track, Goodbye is frantic and recursive, obsessed with the change it effects through its regurgitation of tropes. The title track bids goodbye to the world, abandoned for a hell free of monotonous pleasures. Ashlee has an epiphany, speaking into the microphone about the potential of meaningful escape before launching into another melancholy hook. On the other conceptual pole, there’s “Alone,” a parallel-universe Jason Derulo banger reimagined with high-mixed dial-tone synth and a sampled ringing phone. Goodbye’s biggest innovation upon F.A.G. Diarrhea Cult is their ability to create a synthesis, a logic in which real anxiety and feigned sentimentality coexist, and in that, a sense of realism. Goodbye is music for an age of simulation, in which the affliction du jour is the absorption of others’ sense-information, with sense-information traded as commodity, fabricated feelings. The biggest signs of its optimism are its imperfection and its tendency to approach the audience most openly as it bids farewell.

Links: Other People

Most Read