David Kemper (the guy responsible for creating the words and music contained in this here album) certainly has too much going on inside his little head than is safe for one person.
I don't really know where to begin this one? I don't even know if I like it all that much, but I can't help but be impressed with it. We began this magazine on the basis that people wouldn't agree with everything (or anything) that we had to say, but that they'd want to read it anyway. Incendiary was born with a desire to entertain you all. Highlights of the Peloponnesian Wars is very similar. I don't know if I like all of it, although I most certainly like parts of it, but I can't help but feel impressed and, perversely, entertained by it. One thing is for certain though, David Kemper (the guy responsible for creating the words and music contained in this here album) certainly has too much going on inside his little head than is safe for one person.
Take the opening track, for example, Write It Down, which sounds like three songs in one. It's not one of those songs that changes from one tune into another half way through, but rather is more akin to listening to three different radio stations at once. One of the stations is playing Maroon 5 or some other such US College Rock nonsense, one is playing Booker T and the MG's and one is playing Crosby, Stills & Nash. As you can guess, it's a rather unsettling experience. The college rock station is the more prominent in the mix and ultimately the song is similar to the type of stuff you hear filling up the background of prime time US drama series, like Smallville or Charmed or something. Interesting if not wholly rewarding.
Lunch with Cupid is a bizarre beast. Mixing 1980's gloss with a grungy vocal it sounds like Stone Temple Pilots covering Prince in a Karaoke bar. It's a concoction that is well played and the guitar solo at the end is intoxicating, but it's a little too scary and bewildering a mixture for me to really recommend to anybody. The Square Root of a Shoofly Pie is a different kettle of fish though. The title, for starters, is daft. The song itself swaggers along confidently and Adam Conway's vocal is rather playful, even if it does remind me of that guy from The Crash Test Dummies. It starts off big and loud and then gets bigger, louder and more confident as it develops. By the time they bring some backing vocals, bell chimes and handclaps into the mix at about the three minute mark I was grinning like an idiot and clapping along with them.
Huckleberry Hill is fantastic. You know the type of tune the guy at the piano in Westerns always plays before the bad guy comes into the Saloon and kicks the card tables over? Well this is like that, with piano, banjo, crashing cymbals, clarinets (or some other type of woodwind instrument) and everything thrown into the mix. It starts off jaunty and then picks up speed and is carried along by Worthington Smithers' playfully spiteful vocal performance until the whole thing melts with a wail of guitars into a reprise of The Square Root of Shoofly Pie again. I just can't help but applaud it. Hoorah! Bravo!
There's a slight interlude with the instrumental Sand Song that is rather nice but it does sound like an intro without a main tune. Roman Polanski's House is another one of those tunes that I can't really make my mind up about. One the one hand it sounds like one of those silly punk songs the US seems to churn out in the thousands. It's the type of song that would normally be heard on skateboard videos, but on the other hand it has a really interesting middle section and God damn if the chorus isn't as catchy as hell. The closer, Fifteeen Francs is mightily impressive, if only because it's borderline insane. It starts off nice and relaxed, but then wanders into Thunderclap Newman territory (which is rather frightening) and then collapses into something that is a lot more palatable. Eventually, after winding through a soul section and a bit more Thunderclap it pushes itself into the kind of crazy, mellow boundaries that the Dears have been messing around in.
All in all, I really don't know what to think of it. Is it brilliant and daft or just pretty good and occasionally quirky? I'm not sure. One thing is for sure, the band deserve to be in our Bright Sparks section because they are definitely a band to keep your eye on. Forgetting his fellow band members for a moment, Kemper is one to watch. He could turn out to be another Maroon 5 wannabe, in which case I'll ignore him from here on out, but if he embraces his madness, he could very well turn out to be the new Zappa or Beefheart and I think we could all do with a dose of that. Keep up the good work Brahm's 3rd Racket. We'll be watching.
Words : Damian Leslie