My Dad Is Dead - The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get (Cover Artwork)

My Dad Is Dead

The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get (1989)


Essentially a one-man band helmed by Mark Edwards, My Dad Is Dead remains one of indie rock's best-kept secrets. Seen retrospectively, his 1989 double-album The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get marks a time when the genre had not yet been commercialized, though bands like the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. were begin to garner critical acclaim. Though he never received as much attention as his peers, on his best day Edwards could rival any of their output.

There's a strong Joy Division influence present on this album, with simple beats supplied by a drum machine. Mark Edwards has a voice that sounds like a more nasally Ian Curtis. His lyrics are confessional and generally depressing in a way akin to John Darnielle's, yet he predates him by nearly a decade and avoids sounding as pedantic and forced. He tackles thorny human-interest types of problems that reduce the average person to blind stammering or pure denial, and zeros in on the real issues that are at the heart of what is wrong. He does it with an absolute minimum of either verbiage or sentiment, like in "Seven Years": "Standing at pump number three, I watch the numbers fly by / And the dollars become hours since I left without goodbyes / I was always the coward who could never stand a scene / And now I got what I wanted and I'm running away again."

These songs are largely meditations on longing and loss that break from the verse-chorus-verse mold. Edwards' versatility as a songwriter shines; his songs are very eventful and employ various musical styles ranging from acoustic folk, driving post-punk and pop, which prevents the album from ever becoming monotonous. Some people have leveled the common criticism on first glance that the album wears out its welcome near the end, yet if you put on the last few tracks at the start, they sound like highlights.

If there's a slight weakness to The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get, it is Edwards' over-reliance on lengthy instrumental breaks in his songs. Many of these tracks could have been cut down by a minute or two without really losing anything. There are also a few instrumentals on this album, and while they are strong enough, they come across as songs that Edwards simply didn't get around to writing lyrics for.

Despite these slight shortcomings, this album remains one of the best 1980s albums that you probably haven't heard. And since it's available for free on My Dad Is Dead's website, there is no excuse for you not to give it a try.

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