Album of the Week: Describes Things As They Are


Beauty Pill - Describes Things As They Are (Butterscotch)

Remember the first time you heard a band that didn't cop to anyone else's style or music vibe before? I can namecheck Patti Smith and the Talking Heads as bands that made that immediate impact on my ears and brain. Couldn't shake them out of my brain. Well, it's happened again. Heard a song on random shuffle on a Spotify playlist and bam!... I was hooked. Beauty Pill's tune "Afrikaner Barista" got lodged in my cranium and simply couldn't shake it loose. Nor did I want to. So I tracked down the publicist, begged for the album that the song was released on, sadly to no avail, and bought the album anyway.

Describes Things As They Are (Butterscotch Records) is/was worth every damn penny, my friends. Like the Heads filtered through TV on The Radio, with a dash of the sonic flourishes of The Flaming Lips, but still unique, compelling, sonically engaging, hook-ey and melodically memorable. I'm slow to even know about them, but that's what makes this art-rock effort even more profound for me. (Okay, it was released in the spring of 2015.) I was NOT influenced by a review, critics peer pressure, or a hipster friend crowing about them. I was able to fall in love with them on my own. And that's why I hail this band. Then I read about them and learned that this was their first album was released 11 years ago. That they are a Washington, D.C.-based outfit and that they are not afraid to attach pointed politcal perspectives in their music.

Frontman Chad Clark’s lyrics are way smart snapshots into a beat poet's chanting dreamscape world of words that sometimes should not make sense together, but do. Moreover, it helps that you can Google the political references on the opening track "Drapetomania!" so that they do:

"It's not Natalya Estermirova / No Tupamaros / It's a well-lit nowhere / See you tomorrow."

One of my favorite lyric couplets is in the song "Ann The Word" sung my keyboardist Jean Cook:

"The ocean floor won't ask you any questions / It just sighs and welcomes you down."

This is rare beauty, an album that keeps on giving, an album that you will keep flipping over and over again, taking in all 4 sides as you continue to marvel at its beauty.