Album Review: itoldyouiwouldeatyou — ‘Oh Dearism’
Posted: by The Editor
In a lot more ways than one, UK rockers itoldyouiwouldeatyou remind me of The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. Both have unnecessarily long band names and a million members each. But beyond the superficial, both bands have earned themselves cult followings by taking the blueprints of emo and pushing the genre to its outer limits—emo meets post-rock meets pop-punk meets math rock meets whatever. It might be limiting, in fact, to call either band emo at this point. What I can say for sure, though, is that itoldyouiwouldeatyou’s debut LP Oh Dearism is pretty good.
Album opener “Earl, King, Whatever” displays all of these things in three-and-a-half minutes, building from an organ-led funeral dirge to a melodic emo bridge to a shouty, synthy rock’n’roll ending. It’s theatrical and bombastic and maximalist and it shouldn’t work, but they’re able to pull it off. “Gold Rush” and “Young American” were released as singles, and it’s easy to tell why—they’re much more straightforward than the rest of the tracks on Oh Dearism. In particular, “Young American” is an indie pop gem and its hook would be wasted if it wasn’t pushed the way it deserves: “You love me, you love me, you love me, but I don’t know.”
The album’s other single, “Get Terrified,” was initially released in February on an EP of the same name. Much like the other songs that were released before the album dropped, it’s exemplary of the band’s knack for crafting memorable melodies, in this case taken up a notch by Joey Ashworth’s lovely falsetto in the chorus. The horns are a lovely touch as well, calling to mind a catchier American Football over the song’s serpentine riff. It’s tempting to call it the band’s best song. But then, three minutes in, everything changes and Ashworth begins a rapidfire, slam-poetry-like spoken word performance, shouting, “It’s the future the liberals want!” The song ends on a high note as their hoarse shouts turn into rougher screams, but it becomes distracting.
Unfortunately, this trend continues on the next few songs. “Craiglockhart,” which begins as an intriguing twinkly ballad, eventually devolves into a similar, minute-long spoken word conclusion. If this was it, or the spoken word was used more sparingly, it would be far less distracting. But the album’s closing track—perhaps its most dynamic instrumentally, running through more genres in its four minutes than many bands do in their entire careers—is entirely spoken word, as Ashworth recites a love story about “the rabbit and the hare.” It’s an underwhelming way to close out such a strong album, especially after the eight-and-a-half minute highlight “Greek Fire.” It would’ve been easy for such a long song to end up a self-indulgent mess, but it feels justified in its length; the minute-long chant of “I’m no boy” that closes the song out feels earned. It would’ve made for an appropriate end to the album, putting an end to the days of “grappling with your masculinity” mentioned in “Earl, King, Whatever.”
Oh Dearism borrows its name from the 2009 documentary by the British cultural critic Adam Curtis; Oh Dearism (the film) is about the titular phenomenon by which people get so accustomed to the horrors of the news that the only appropriate reaction is to throw up your hands and say, “Oh dear.” Oh dearism (the phenomenon) erodes any feeling of social responsibility or solidarity and chalks all the evils of the world up to the world itself, an immutable feature of life. It’s an appropriate title, as Oh Dearism (the album) is about reckoning with the oppressive systems—political, cultural, whatever—that so often go unquestioned. Gender identity, sociopolitical marginalization, and the resurgence of reactionary politics are recurrent themes, and it makes for a pretty bleak picture. But, for all its imperfections, Oh Dearism is proof that itoldyouiwouldeatyou will be there to provide comfort even when no one else is.
Disappointing / Average / Good / Great/ Phenomenal
Zac Djamoos | @greatwhitebison
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