(Not on Label)
It’s an easy trap to fall into: taking the fool at face value. Not taking someone seriously because they don’t, at a glance, seem to take themselves seriously. Dim Wit’s Jeff Tuyay is a clown and this is not an insult, merely fact. When performing, Tuyay dons white makeup and a bright red-orange wig. He writes lyrics about farts and his vocal pitch is sky high, as if he just inhaled a helium balloon at a kid’s birthday party. So a listener could be forgiven for, at first listen, considering Dim Wit’s latest tape Dim Sh!t to be something of a novelty.
Forgiven, but not correct.
Right off the bat, opener “Wee Thee Peeple” sets the table for exploration of duality: the duality of how we are perceived by others versus who we are and how we feel. Tuyay cutely asks listeners “Who’s driving gas cars / and eating shitty food? / Who’s staring at a screen / with a shitty attitude?” before erupting into an unhinged screamed chorus of “YES I AM! / ONE OF THOSE IDIOTS! / AND YOU ARE TOO!”. Beyond simply being one of the more addictive shout-along choruses of the year, it lays out the idea that just because Tuyay plays a clown to get through a performance (you can read and listen about Tuyay’s use of the rock doctor clown persona to fend off performance anxiety here courtesy of BTRtoday), it doesn’t mean that at his core, he’s not just like anyone. The difference is the presentation of the duality of man: some choose to externalize maturity and internalize what is seen as immaturity, while Dim Wit does the reverse.
Duality pops up everywhere on Dim Sh!t, from the obvious title of “Duel Schism”, which deals directly with the anxiety and internal identity crisis one experiences conflicting beliefs and emotions, or perpetually teetering on the fulcrum of letting everything affect you or shutting it all out (“I feel it all at once / I feel / NOTHING AT ALL!”), to personal favorite “Puppy Wuv”, which tackles the dualities of love: emotional vs. physical (“You make me soft / You make me hard”), as well as the extremes of influence our loved one hold over us (“You make me wanna live / YOU MAKE ME WANNA DIE!”). There’s a clear through-line, and a fascinating one at that.
This is still a pop record though, and a damn fun one. Dim Wit list their primary influences as Deerhoof and Pavement. The former is pretty obvious at initial listen: Jeff Tuyay’s voice is easily comparable to Satomi Matsuzaki and both bands share appreciation for the same general rhythmic quirks, with Dim Wit’s rhythm section being similarly very tight yet very playful. Dim Wit is more outwardly pop with stronger hooks, and Tuyay has more vocal options when he lets loose, while Deerhoof is perhaps more prone to stretch their wings into unexpected genres and passages (not that Dim Wit entirely refrains from doing so). Pavement is a bit more subtle in its influence, but you can hear touches of the slower, more experimental tracks of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and especially Wowee Zowee when Dim Wit themselves slow down and get spacey. We’ll also draw a comparison to early Architecture in Helsinki when it comes to the sheer exuberant positive energy and twee elements of some of these tracks.
We often forget what a fool does to entertain their audience, what a fool is, why they do what they do. The tarot is a hint: the fool represents originality and innocence, but most notably infinite potential and therefore infinite depth. Depth does not solely exist in the form of a sad baritone drunkenly slurring the injustices of the world. Sometimes it’s in the form of a clown making jokes about farts and boners, especially when more complex thoughts and feelings bubble under the surface.
Favorite tracks: “Wee Thee Peeple”, “Duel Schism”, “Puppy Wuv”
You can purchase Dim Wit’s Dim Sh!t on cassette and/or digital here.