Skeletons And The Kings Of All Cities is basically a re-jiggered version of Skeletons And The Girl Faced Boys, which may be a less awesome name but not by much. Exactly how it’s re-jiggered is up for discussion: it mainly consists of bigger, slightly more bonkers guitar parts and a slew of visitors who dive in and out like pelicans. Lucas, sporadically, is a warm and inviting record, as poetic as it is geeky. It’s also a resounding mess.
Several tracks from Lucas have the essential consistency and exact color of runny eggs down walls. Instruments collide and go whirling off into the margins like krazy kars; melodies and countermelodies get stinking drunk and fall asleep in each other’s arms; some really loud horns get after it like nobody’s business. Matt Mehlan, the orchestrator of all this, cannot be said to be having one ounce less fun than he should be having out there, which isn’t to say he’s merely amusing himself. Somewhere in the spaghetti scrum of this contorted, cacophonic Rubik’s cube is a thoughtful, affectionate trajectory. Or maybe it’s as simple as “a bad case of the big ideas” as Mehlan mouths on “Sickness.” If you’ve got the patience to un-contort the cacophony, you should do exactly that. Then again, the following is a direct quote from Mehlan: ‘LUCAS is named after a small town in Kansas, where the Garden of Eden is.’ (Just saying.)
Songs include “Fake Tits” (“fake tits/ that move away from her/ a boldface/ a tall drink of water“); “The Shit From The Dogs,” which breaks open a baroque-pop canister in near-exact opposition to (or near-exact compatibility with, depending on how you look at these things) the lunacy of the title; and “Hay W’Happns,” a mad-jazz freakout strung with loopy CGI jitters. But “Sickness” is the best. Bleeped, blooped, and choired, it sounds like a rerun from the wilderness years of the Talking Heads, whenever those were. Come to think of it, comparing Lucas to Remain In Light isn’t necessarily a strike against the latter’s lofty status. Built on the same principles of strand-like electronics and incessant background chatter, Lucas doesn’t bring it with exactly the same full-lobe intensity. And if Mehlan, basically a dude from Brooklyn, ever went to art school, it’s very confidential. But Lucas is a pretty fun record. I hate to play the post-rock card, but in terms of that, Lucas is as good as it gets.
Talking Heads – Remain In Light
Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles
The Sea And Cake – The Biz
MP3: “What They Said”