Nebraskan Darren Keen, mastermind for The Show Is the Rainbow, has a resume which includes shows for an 18 year-old’s graduation from military school deep in state, and sharing stages with the likes of The Locust, Mates of State, Hella and Neil Hamburger. His music on debut album Gymnasia is punctuated by jittering guitars, Beck levels of eclecticism, and bouts of eccentricity, tunefulness and general strangeness.
“Gothic Cajun” is a foul-mouthed sex ballad that recalls Bobby Conn and a Game Boy on Viagra, ending with a repeated chant of “all I wanted was to fuck and suck and come.” “You Are the Blood Gnome” improbably manages to come across like some sort of Tapes `N Tapes influenced glitch 2 Live Crew. As refrains go, “bitch you better breathe like beg and bleed like better never leave like my Helen” is both bold and a little bizarre. “I Am the Decline” wears weird indie well. Fans of Ween and Liars might be partial, particularly given the exclamation, “I want to be bigger than medicine, a real red menace man.”
“Do the Skinny” has plentiful bursts of snot and the surreal. We discover that “she lost three fifty now she feels fucking foxy,” and “boys in girls’ jeans are easily excited.” “All is Well” offers the listener thinking space in the form of lush analogue concrete a la Mr Dan. Meanwhile, “Safe Art” is a diatribe against the obvious, slating the UK press, hipsters and trends against an LCD Soundsystem style ambience. It’s all fair enough, but most definitely saved by the final burst of lo-fidelity Queen pomp.
I’m unsure whether the two tracks that make up “Waiting Not Working Parts One Two and Three” are separate songs or constituent parts of a whole entity. Either way they openly lift from Beck’s “The New Pollution,” before juddering with a little flamenco and the perverse diversity of Handsome Boy Modelling School. “Swatting Flies” makes like Jello Biafra post-EST. The title track is a fitting sign off, by turns grind house horror and deeply touching aerobic work out. Whatever headspace Keen is in, there are plenty of distinguishing marks. The Show Is The Rainbow’s first is an unusual album, and the world is a better place for its existence.
Bobby Conn – Bobby Conn
Beck – Odelay
Mr Dan – How Things Work