January 22, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Patience Dear Juggernaut - Girl The Impaler (2011)

There’s so much to love on Patience Dear Juggernaut’s debut album, Girl The Impaler. Mining geek cool through the confessional slang of Wes Anderson flicks and JD Salinger’s coming-of-age doldrums, it’s a record that pulls humor from the trickiest situations and tugs at your heartstrings from the zaniest spots. Also not to mention, it boasts songs that straddle in between twee and feverish romanticism, where our boy character shares his romantic encounters with the girls he has dated, and writes funny anecdotes that taught him to be the grown-up he is now. Familiar? Not really.

The main man behind this ribald eccentricity is Wincy Ong, resident guitarist-keyboardist of Us-2 Evil-0 and bassist of the now-defunct garage band, Narda. Wincy takes his cues from the likes of Ben Folds Five and Belle & Sebastian, making quirkiness briefly seem like a good thing again. With a goofy drawl, he wears fictitious mask to diss the ex-girlfriends that left him crying in the wee hours of the day (“You’re So Cool Stephanie,” “Volcanoes”) and makes time to enlist all the sweetest things to say to the woman he loves but can never be his (“Beta Male,” “Art School Lover,” and “Forget About Her”).

Sure, we get a rear-view mirror of 500 Days of Summer vibe on this, a musical equivalent of a dorky Sundance hit whose leads are more often than not, middleclass, art school geeks sobbing to the idea of odd romances. But Wincy’s trademark wit and twee makes for an entertaining gag rather than a shot at pretentious whimsy.

On “Ellen”, he agrees to meet up with his ex-girlfriend for a casual drink, and gets devastated after finding out about the ex’s sexuality. Over sunny melodies, slinky piano chords and jangly guitars, he was bemused at the revelation, and had a change of heart after the ex asks instead for a threesome with another hot girl around. Wincy quips, “And I was feeling really glum, I was reaching for a gun until the girls said, How about a threesome?” It is one of the best moments in the album, together with “Joan,” a track huffed in depressing tone where Wincy plays the boyfriend to the barely legal, manic-depressive Joan, contemplating on loneliness and the struggles of getting out of it.

Lest anyone suspect otherwise, I'm completely certain that Patience Dear Juggernaut’s Girl The Impaler will still be making rounds in my music library for years. It’s an album brimming with hooks and charms, rolling out bits and pieces of why I love music in the first place: the ability to throw out anthems that you’ll sing in the deepest, darkest corners of your existence or for the lack of it, something you won’t be ashamed of humming in your bathrooms while you wait for the sunshine outside to unfurl. And yes, it’s a funny record too that’s honest and deliberate in sending its message across. Who says tongue-in-the-cheek artists have such a shorter shelf-life?   A- 

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