Tape Review: Get a Life’s “Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt”

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Get a Life

Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt

(Forged Artifacts)

Despite the title, Get a Life’s Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt does not present itself as a work of traditionally lofty ambition, and Chase DeMaster certainly doesn’t present himself as a model savior of independent rock music. If anything, he presents himself as a bit of a fuck up, botching chords and lyrics, espousing the merits of unemployment and frivolous spending, and playfully splashing about in the waters of stagnation, disillusionment, and isolation. If that doesn’t sound ‘polished’ or ‘mature’, that’s because it’s not. What it is though is honest. Relatable. Normal. Human. Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt proudly displays its flaws like merits badges in a way artists, and people in general, are often terrified to do, especially when these flaws might seem too mundane to explore with great depth. Get a Life revels in the mundane, the dull, day-to-day struggle to make your life worth living not according to anyone else, but solely to yourself, and is absolutely thrilling because of it. It feels like a beautiful accident, a perfect storm, a microcosm of the ordinary, quiet hopelessness of modern American life and an absurdist laugh and shrug in the face of it all.

A healthy dose of ADD-riddled slacker savant pop genius certainly doesn’t hurt its cause either.

Opener “Get a Job” sets the tone for the tape and serves somewhat as the ‘Get a Life theme song’, a anthemic march in opposition to ‘getting a life’. Chords awkwardly buzz, warp, and rattle as if emitted from a oft-used toy (exactly how DeMaster sees his guitar), as DeMaster shouts the rally cry “I’M GOING NOWHERE FAST / HIT ME UP IF YOU NEED A RIDE”, inviting listeners to join him in attempt to abandon the stresses involved in feeling like you constantly need to move forward on tracks you don’t really want to be on. The next song “2050”, imagines him thirty years in the future after having worked within the confines of modern American capitalist industry: ideas and plans that never reach fruition, money slowly accruing interest in a bank account that you never spend because if you do, you stop accruing interest and you need it for when your owners lose use for you, etc. First World Problems, but real problems, the things that help ensure security but stifle hopes and dreams, the enjoyment of life, the whole ‘point’ of life to begin with.

“What You Deserve” and “All Fun No Gum” really bring to the forefront a lazy, but apt comparison that could be made between Get a Life and The Strokes. DeMaster’s vocals sound eerily similar to Julian Casablancas on these tracks, minus the need to try to sound ‘cool’. The Strokes were also never quite so fucking loud as Get a Life is on “What You Deserve”, an absolutely massive noise rock banger and ode to spending what you have (and what you don’t) while you’re still able to enjoy it and haven’t completely wasted away yet. “All Fun No Gum” is a sad, but ultimately hopeful tale of DeMaster looking back on childhood and the lie we’re told as kids: that we can be anything we want to be. The song compares identities to costumes, pointing out that not everyone can even afford to dress up as who they’d like to be, let alone actually be who they’d like to be. The hope comes in the acceptance of this: letting go and allowing yourself to just be ‘you’, no matter if the world might find ‘you’ weird or unspectacular. The A-side closes on “Slow Me Down”, a track about persevering through hardships where DeMaster makes it clear that his faults and emotional wounds will never heal or go away, but he’ll live on not in spite of them, but because of them (“Don’t I look good with this limp?”).

On the B-side, we open with “2 Plus 2 Equals 5”, a joyful, spastic jamboree crammed with memorable melody after memorable melody, adorned with spirited piano garnish and initially jarring, seemingly tangentially shifts that smartly loop their way back into cohesion. “Here Comes the Fun” is a bright, chiming jangle number that manages to call back to the clothes motif established in “All Fun No Gum”, with a section about DeMaster selling his shirts to an Australian on Etsy and joking about how the new owner gets to have his fun now. What follows is probably the most whacked out track on the album, “Spotless”. It alternates between bouncy, cutesy indietronica style passages that transform into gigantic, heavy, doom and drone form waves of noise, electronics, and modulated vocals, symbolizing the ups and downs of DeMaster’s relationship with his girlfriend.

Then we have “Dungeon”:

There are not adequate words to express just how plainly and profoundly ethereal and devastating this song is. It’s a swirling, floating, ungraspable cloud of sound and emotion written simply, almost vaguely and with multiple meanings, so as to work like a Rorschach. It hurts though. Every variation hurts. It sounds like losing people you care about to me, at least mostly. It still feels like there’s more there.

Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt is messy, confused, and deeply personal in a way not heard in indie rock since Twin Fantasy. What makes this all the more remarkable is that even more so than that record, this feels like lightning in a bottle, brilliance via moments of unfiltered simplicity and purity. Each song here was written and recorded in a day each, not to be fussed with, leaving all of its wonderful quirks and foibles intact. Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt is not a masterpiece by design.

Nonetheless, it is.

 

Favorite tracks: (All of them, but especially) “Get a Job”, “All Fun No Gum”, “2 Plus 2 Equals 5”, “Dungeon”

 

 

Rating: Masterpiece

 

You can purchase Get a Life’s Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt here or here.

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