There are good albums. There are great albums. There are some really, really shitty albums. But every so often, something comes around that makes you realize just how much you love music. This year, for me, it is Owen's I Do Perceive.
First off, Mike Kinsella is a musical genius. From vocals in American Football, to guitar in Joan of Arc, to drums in The Owls, and finally to his own project Owen, this man has done it all. He has a passion for soft, emotional music, and he is one of the best songwriters and lyricists of our time. His previous Owen efforts have all been very good, but have lacked something to push it into stellar status. The question now is: will I Do Perceive finally be the amazing album that we all knew Mike Kinsella could put out? You bet your ass it is.
Upon first listen, the most striking feature of the album is that it is much more upbeat than Kinsella's previous work. Do not fear: the quiet, depressed tracks are still evident - just not as plentiful, and instead have been replaced by almost bouncy acoustic guitar tracks, very effective lead guitar parts, and huge percussion. Right away, the catchiness of "Who Found Whose Hair In Whose Bed?" makes you want to clap your ass off until the sadder bridge part comes in, taking you to more familiar territory. It's a formula for a perfect acoustic rock song, and Kinsella pulls it off impeccably. "That Tattoo Isn't Funny Anymore" continues the bouncy yet technical guitar riffs in the intro, and signals that maybe Mike has cheered himself up a bit, but the track quickly slows down to his patented crooning and acoustic guitar plucking.
On the other side of things, Mike Kinsella has still got some sadness to give to the world. "Playing Possum For A Peed" (what?) is an intimate and extremely emotional song about failed relationships, and it makes for the best track on the album. The emotion that Kinsella conveys through a little singing, guitar plucking, piano, and feedback is brilliant, and you can feel his pain as his voice cracks and he sings as if he is on the edge of breakdown. Around 2:40, where the guitar part gets a tad higher and he sings "And I watch you put your clothes on for me…", it makes me want to break down myself. This song is an absolute triumph if there ever was one.
Two other songs that are worth noting are "Note to Self:" and "Bed Abuse." "Note to Self:" boasts an awesome lead guitar riff, and HAND CLAPS. I'm sorry, but any song with hand claps is automatically awesome in my book. The extended outro of "You're a long ways away from the place we thought you'd be by now" is passionate as all hell, and makes all 6:15 of the track extremely enjoyable. "Bed Abuse" is highlighted by absolutely huge drumming and a bigger sound than that of which we are used to by Owen. It clocks in at a weighty seven and a half minutes, but it never drags. Again, it's different than what we are used to hearing from Owen, but it works, and remarkably.
The other tracks on I Do Percieve are not as standout as the ones listed, but are still very good tracks nonetheless, especially the rather simple "She's A Thief." Unfortunately, the album ends on a sour note with "Lights Out," a song that goes nowhere for three minutes and then bursts into noise that is rather tough on the ears. I'm not too sure why this was included; "Bed Abuse" would have been a much better track to close on, with the complete elimination of "Lights Out" altogether. This alone kills off half of a star's rating; disappointing, but not terrible.
This album hit me hard. From the first listen through, I knew I would love this. I've had it for over a month now, and it has yet to leave my discman/computer/whatever. Owen's I Do Perceive is some of the best acoustic-based music around, and will find its way atop many a top-ten list very soon. Right now, it's damn close to the top of mine. This is a remarkable release.
"Who Found Whose Hair In Whose Bed?"
"Note to Self:"
"Playing Possum for a Peed"