PAISH - "POP MONSIEUR VOL. 1" CS
NFTs, total war, environmental collapse. We are living in new, embarrassing times.
But Paish is less interested in the grandiose, miserable sweep of the long durée. Rather, Pop Monsieur is about the indignities of living blankly in the shadow of a world-system going down the tubes. It is an ode to keeping the lid on the silent scream, to blotting out an internal monologue that compulsively finds its way back to the “Danger Zone.” It is sonic testimony to Man’s capacity to politely, toe-tappingly, lose his mind on a public bus.
UK-born, Melbourne-based Paish takes his musical cues from the best of the Auld Worlde’s post-punk patrimony. Guitars recall Orange Juice’s wiry, funkish jangling with a dash of Women’s icy, modish complexity thrown in for good measure. The keys are weird and garish, all 1980s analogue drifting by way of Saâda Bonair or Gina X Performance, while the thuggish, synthetic insistence of Human League’s android rhythms provide the backdrop for Paish’s signature lobotomised baritone.
In the pantheon of low-frequency, low-serotonin crooners, Paish is an up-and-comer. Paish artfully combines Stephen Merritt’s (The Magnetic Fields) word-perfect ironising with the ambient misery of Dave Berman happier moments (The Silver Jews). The antipodean influence makes itself known through Paish’s remonstrations with the Australian state, a half sun-bleached, half sun-sick disposition, and an affinity for discomfiting lyrical realism that recalls the sharpest, funniest lines on Alex Cameron’s early records.
Paish is, at heart, an inveterate sentimentalist with razor-sharp pop instincts. It’s easy listening, really, if you don’t listen too hard. Dig beneath the surface, though, and there’s something else lurking. Like a middle-aged man with a basement full of hand painted miniatures, Paish manages to be both sweet and unsavoury at the same time. Isolation, intimacy, deindustrialisation, hors d’oeuvres, broken supply chains, broken hearts. Paish’s deadpan, SSRI-fried delivery leaves us wondering what he really thinks about his subjects. And by the same token, we are forced to question what we really think about them, too. Ambivalence is half the fun, and Paish has used it to create a wonderful pop record that will quicken the pulse of irony poisoned dopamine burnouts, post-punk aficionados, and mass transit enthusiasts everywhere – Alex MacGregor.
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