How can we best express our rage and alienation in the 21st Century? On their webpage the Drab City duo assure listeners that "We are expressing our despair in the best way we can".
A conventional means of doing this would be through punk rock diatribes and, indeed, the scary as fuck cover art for this album suggests to the uninitiated that this is the chosen path. But you don't find too many flutes and jazzy guitar chord melodies in punk anthems!
Drab City is inhabited by Chris Dexter Greenspan, a San Franciscan whose previous incarnation was as oOoOO, and 'Asia', a Bosnian-Muslim who grew up in Germany.
The duo's influences range from Charles Mingus to The Shangri-Las and this makes the ten tracks a glorious and hard to pin down mish-mash. There are elements of cheesy pop, lounge jazz and woozy electronica that don't fit squarely in mainstream or alternative boxes.
In a broadly positive AllMusic review, Marcy Donalson says the couple are "a little unfocused musically" but what might otherwise hold up as a valid criticism here just identifies a Ms Jones hack who knows something is happening but doesn't know what it is. What good is focus when the world is falling to pieces?
Greenspan and Asia may look like trailer trash psycho killers but they sing sweetly, like murderers posing as clowns. The songs are peopled by troubled girls, male tormenters and sinister strangers.
Problem is like a duet between The Handsome Family and Jane Birkin; the curious dub beats of Live Free & Die When It's Cool create a genuinely spooky atmosphere.
The overall effect is so disarming that even romantic lines of Just Me & You ("I remember Springtime. That was when we fell in love") sound more menacing than reassuring.
The playing time is just 32 minutes but this is sufficient to ensure this excellent debut album makes a lasting impression.