RAZZMATAZZ is the debut full-length from Utah two-piece I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME (now there’s an opening sentence). Kinda rock, kinda funk, kinda synthy, and really, really poppy, this twelve-song debut takes a lot of stylistic risks. But, as fellow unhygienic Bucketlist writer Jason Greenberg and I (Justin Bruce) quickly came to realize, these gambles didn’t always pan out for the duo.
RAZZMATAZZ is an absolutely fine album. From the hop, the band is upbeat and dancey, with the vocals on the opening tune “Leave Me Alone,” and the rest of the album, for that matter, reminiscent of late era Death From Above 1979. Things get shaken up rather severely on the song “Nobody Likes the Opening Band,” a ballad which pays homage to the band’s apparent experiences as an unknown opener on larger tours. This tune isn’t the most interesting to listen to, but it is a nice change of pace. Some other high points are the electro-lounge (fuck, that sounds pretentious) track “From the Gallows” and the bouncy synth tune “Kiss Goodnight.”
I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME do a fair bit of genre-bending on RAZZMATAZZ, but it failed to really hold my attention for the whole forty-ish-minute runtime. “Sugar Pills” grabs cliché elements from funk, disco and dance music to pull together the audio equivalent of a white cake with white icing on a white, styrofoam plate, eaten with a white plastic fork. Give the first 30 seconds a listen, that analogy will make total sense. “Lights Go Down” is another tune that sounds like it’s trying to capture a sombre-yet-dancey energy that, save for the ripping saxophone solo, quickly devolves into background music.
I don’t hate RAZZMATAZZ, but I sure as shit don’t love it. I think that both halves of this duo are incredibly talented, but that they half-assed some of their musical experimentation. But, nobody’s here to read what I have to say. Let’s get a look at what the moustache of muscle himself, sweet baby Jason, thinks about this thing.
I do so love it when you talk dirty to me, baby. Eroticisms aside, my portly yet passionate puddin’ over here has hit many a nail on the head. IDKHOW bring a wide variety of sounds and inflections into what almost feels like an overcrowded concoction, but absolutely can at times fuck, and fuck hard. I won’t dizzy you further, my dear reader, as the mighty Master Bruce already tossed what can only be described as a motley crew of genres panini-pressed together to create the general sound that we toiled over here on RAZZMATAZZ, but where my darling and I most definitely differ is my level of forgiveness towards one of the rarest of occurrences in things that I’ve had the pleasure of erotically regurgitating here on Bucketlist Music Reviews.
The aforementioned rarity is that this record feels somehow OVER produced to me. Maybe I’m a hard n00b with regards to the standard of pop/funk engineering these days (which is less of a maybe and more of a hard fact), but ultimately I felt enthralled from the opening swing of “Leave Me Alone,” a coupling of groovy, funky, jazzy, and snazzy, even with a suspiciously anthemic chorus as an added taint cleaner, which then degraded over time as the sensation of excessive bludgeoning reigned supreme with over-focused bells and whistles, as well as a reckless abandon of groovier progressions in lieu of stranger, less consistent compositions stood in its place. Putting it simply; I feel like the opening track hit the hardest, and then the rest of the record kept trying to reinvent the wheel, which ended up almost sounding like Christmas Disco when the dust settled. A combination I shudder to imagine further. Every tune contrasted from the next and meandered through different interpretations of music through the decades, and even as I write this, I struggle to shake off the whiplash whilst begging for the peaked level interest that “Leave Me Alone” still infests my ears with. If it’s the Musclestache’s opinion you want, then said opinion is that where some of these tunes are just good ol’ fashioned fun, the sum of its parts result in an over reliance on added effects and overtones, rather than on attractive song writing, otherwise known as half-assed musical experimentation.
We differ in acceptance and standard, but we both most definitely agree that this record has its moments, which then flees faster than it came. RAZZMATAZZ may speak to you differently than it did to us star-crossed lovers, but I think we can both agree that any sentiment of “Nobody Likes the Opening Band” can go fuckin’ blow itself (even if meant satirically/ironically).
Written by Justin Bruce and Jason Greenberg
*Edited by Chris Aitkens