The Absurdity of Politics and Rock and Roll
There are a few things that may draw a listener to the stylings of The Paranoid Style. Maybe it is their 90s Riot Grrrl/Shoegazing sound or perhaps the absurd political lyrics. While this DC based band has managed to channel the same insanity that this current election has cast over the country, their album Rolling Disclosure fails to do the same.
While the ‘90s punk rock sound is appreciated, the only bands that manage to pull it off are Lush, Garbage and Sleater-Kinney. The lead singer Elizabeth Nelson Bracy’s voice sounds like a combination of Corin Tucker and Eleanor Friedberger. She mostly sing/talks through the record with the fervor of a former politician crusading for some unachievable goal within the local government or the desperation of Miss Hannigan in Annie, depending on how the listener interprets the album. Nelson’s voice stands out, but it seems that she would have found more success in a different decade with a different band.
Monotony aside, the one thing that The Paranoid Style has going for them is the clever lyrics and tracks titles. When Nelson sings, “I find my inner peace/Like Lola on a leash” on the song “Lola on a Leash,” the listener cannot help but smile at the silliness of the lyrics or think more about the nuanced message of a woman working in the male dominated climate of the present. A favorite on the record, of which there are few, “Daniel in the Basement” talks about a misfit Daniel and his crippling debt. It may be considered a dark subject, but just like a screenwriter constructing a scene where a man decides to tell his wife he’s been having an affair while on a rollercoaster, the absurdity and hilarious misfortune is more comical than serious.
There are a few things that make this record bearable. The farcical lyrics illicit a sense of lightheartedness and the valiant effort on behalf of Nelson to create a sound more akin to the punk rock feminist movement of the ‘90s. Something about this record, however, just rubs the listener the wrong way. When a wave of contentedness should flow through the listener, a rush of anger and confusion instead washes over. The Paranoid Style’s originality is appreciated, but Rolling Disclosure is largely uncomfortable to listen to.