It’s often recommended that we don’t judge a book by its cover; this is foolish advice – especially in music. For the best music, you see, is wonderful not just because of the way it sounds, but for its aesthetic entirety. Consider, for instance, the appropriately surreal, Brie-faced lady gracing the sleeve of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea; the sordid, disparate watercolour wraparound adorning Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear; the timeless romance of snowy Greenwich Village that draws us into the cynical world of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I mention these records in particular because of their folksy brilliance – granted, genius cover-art mightn’t be linked intrinsically to good music universally, but it certainly seems a pre-requisite of quality in the field of folk music.
Problems begin for Decadence & Abandon then, at its atrocious artwork. Now, I’m no idiot: this is clearly some clever attempt at mashing up lowbrow hip-hop imagery and sophisticated folk virtues. However, in addition to being a shoddy shot (because even by hip-hop’s standards, the reworded advisory label is lame and pretentious), this poorly lit, badly photo-shopped cover is one whose oxymoronic appropriation is unearned by the only-average platter of tunes on offer here.
Homo Superior, The One, Jupiter Rising and Better, Brighter, Good are all repetitive, plodding tracks, made only worse by faltering moments of undeveloped originality (the violin riff on track 1, the gospel choir effect on track 4). Most disappointing here is the feeling of wasted potential; given the full Land of the Giants funkadelica treatment, we might’ve had some Surrender-esque material on our hands. Instead, we’re left with Surrender-esque song writing that, minus the bombast of Quick’s other band, reveals itself as uninspired and lacking.
All I want is for these songs to lift off – but as well as never quite managing it, they succeed, in continuing forth, at nose-diving into disinteresting noise. Without the energy of his cohort and with the singular artistic freedom to make poor decisions in the art-direction department, Andy Quick sorely disappoints on this one.
Here’s to hoping it’s just a misstep.