A Ride On the Way-back Machine
Rock ’n’ roll is such a rare form of entertainment, one in which the lines between intelligence and stupidity—and satire and reality—can be so blurry, it’s sometimes nice to just get lost in the wash. Bored With Prozac and the Internet? seems to fit nicely into this sense of ambiguity, mostly because it is such an odd little thing. If you have read anything about this album, you’ll know that it has some interesting roots. Conceived by Duran Duran members Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo during some down years with the band, it is basically a near pastiche of decadent keyboard-based electronic rock that makes liberal use of splice and loop technology. In fact, the “vocals” of the album are largely the duo’s strategic use of some bizarre television audio clips.
The other thing: This album was made in the mid-1990s. Not a problem in and of itself, of course, but there’s a feeling that anyone who was alive during the 1990s and listens to this album will get flashbacks to the pseudo-confrontational commercials and music videos of the time which used many of the tricks on display here: the quasi-industrial distorted guitars (“Beautiful Clothes”), that sound like the obligatory soundtrack to every “hacker” internet exploitation film ever conceived during this period, overt oscillating fades and faux-hip hop scratchings (“I Wanna Make Films”), and nearly every other “cutting edge” trick that was later made fun of on VH1’s I Love the 90’s. Now, though the presence of these flashbacks might hamstring the album outright for some who despised that period in music, truth be told, 2013 might have been just about the best time to release this little nugget, as there seems to be an inevitable ’90s nostalgia in progress these days.
The album at face value is fine, though it might earn remarks for reasons other than the ones intended. The arrangements are clever, though often hammy, and even when taking on already well-worn subjects like dystopian visions of a shameless material world, they are handled in mostly interesting, if not really groundbreaking ways. A song like the beaty, dreamy and saccharine “Paramount” is a good example of this push-pull dynamic. Maybe it’s the reality of the present, where a place like Walmart is a real-life “Paramount,” and the knee-jerk reaction of “Yes… and?” might be a little unfair. However, the tunes here and throughout the record are good—and thematically well composed for their subjects. Remember: Face value.
Though there are some uninspired experiments here, such as the filler of “Yogurt and Fake Tan,” much of the album is a fun, campy listen. One somewhat questions the high-art pretensions the duo suggest, which apparently call on Broadway for inspiration. Yet one can never tell, even in hindsight, what this album was about. As it stands, in it’s twisted, cheesy and somewhat out-of-touch self in 2013, it is a fun little document. And even if this fun is split evenly between half-intended and half-unintended, it is fun nonetheless.