Like Grapes of Wrath in a drunken haze whilst getting the taxi back from the night before, B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down has a detached nihilism about it – you’re along for the ride but you’re not really there. This is aided by the fact that the songs drift one into another – they’re all good songs, but feel like different movements of the same song rather than each son being its own thing.
Pretty Pimpin’ is a song about disassociation with the man in the mirror with lines about “brushing a strangers teeth, but they were my teeth,” and of drunken dislocation with time as well as self. The song has a lackadaisical quality about it, of just drifting from day to day feeling like someone else and not knowing what day it is. The repeated refrain, “I woke up this morning didn’t recognise this boy in the mirror” also speaks of the man in the song not recognising who he is anymore as he grows older – he’s still a boy, but he’s not the boy he was, and every day he’s someone different.
"I was buggin' out 'bout a couple-two-three things
Picked up my microphone and started to sing
I was feeling worse than the words come out
Fell on some keys, and this song walked outta me"
Lost My Head is about song writing as emotional exorcism, getting the words out of your system so they don’t churn around your head and drive you crazy. Vile nails it when he says he doesn’t want to talk or shout about it, but he will sing about it – there’s something of a confession ethic in getting on stage and singing out your troubles rather than just talking about it. Why confide in a friend when you can confide in a room full of strangers? Performance is catharsis when you’re being ridden by the demon of inspiration.
The album is reminiscent in tone of Bruce Springstein with shades of Ian McCullloch, replete with world weariness and imagery of the outlaw on a dusty pilgrimage through the heart of America that’s part myth and part everyday mundanity. I just wish that each track felt more like a distinct adventure from the last – if there’s one complaint I have about the album it’s that everything blurs into one, which is a shame because I do like it and the feeling and scenery the music evokes in me. But maybe that’s the point of it and I’ve missed it completely: that the songs travel from one to another like a car or a train passing through places just long enough to take in the scenery and atmosphere but not long enough to put your feet on the ground and get your bearings.
Monthly music columnist for the Kirkby Extra, sometimes article writer for Get Into This. Freelance writer/artist/maker.