Admittedly, a large portion of the music I like could be, maybe possibly, filed under the header “Indie.” And here’s why I hate that: it’s meaningless as a genre, for starters. It’d be better to call it “music the radio doesn’t play because the radio sucks” (unless it’s Minnesota’s 89.3 The Current). The Boy Least Likely To is another reason I try to just list bands I like instead of saying I like “Indie” music. Because I’m afraid, deathly afraid, that someone will hear that I like indie stuff and think I like Sufjan Stevens and The Boy Least Likely To.
I can’t even remember why I thought I would like The Law of the Playground. Because I really don’t. It’s actually almost everything about indie I hate. Childlike innocence I can deal with, but The Law of the Playground is so prancingly aw-shucks that it makes me want to puke. It’s an album that would scream, “Look at me! I’m innocent and cute!” except that it doesn’t scream anything ever. It just whispers everything to you and waits for you to find it precious. Well, I don’t.
I was discouraged by album opener “Saddle Up,” because it made me ask, out loud when only the dog could hear me, “Are they serious?” Who is this music for? My niece might dig this shit, but I’m guessing it’s too cute even for her (kid likes pirate movies and Wolf Parade for dog’s sake). By the time I got t0 “When Life Gives Me Lemons, I Make Lemonade,” I stopped.
That’s right. I stopped. I know I say that I listen to every album a bunch of times before I write about it and that’s almost always true. But I couldn’t get past the third track on this record. I’m afraid if my friends hear me listening to it, they’ll pinch my cheek and call me “Sport.” It’s what I’d do if I caught any of them listening to it. I’ve only just made it to Track 4 right now because I’m too busy typing to change the album. It’s a song called “I Box Up All the Butterflies.” I’m going to box up this album and throw it off a bridge.
The Pitchfork review tried to convince me that there was some kind of underlying darkness or tension to The Law of the Playground, but all that little argument did is remind me of the Patton Oswalt bit about trying to convince people in Sterling, Virginia, that Phil Collins is really dark and out there. No…fucking…dice.
This is not to say that I’m immune or somehow enraged by cute things. It’s nearly universally agreed that my fiance is cute as hell, and I love her. Okay, fine, if you wanna pin me strictly to music, let me ask you this: did you read just the other day when I was all gooey about the new Metric album? Of course you didn’t, but that album is pretty fucking cute. Dressy Bessy makes cute music and doesn’t piss me off. I’d even say that there are one or two Sigur Ros tunes I would describe as cute and I definitely don’t want to assault them.
The trouble is this: the guys in The Boy Least Like To Impress Me (Jof Owen and some other guy I don’t care about) give me the sense that this child-like cuteness is their thing. It reminds me of the scene in Adaptation where Donald announces, “My genre’s the thriller, what’s yours?” The Boy Least Likely To Ever Get Laid has staked out sounding like innocent children as their little niche and indie kids who pay too much for old-looking sweaters and think that this review is just plain mean might just eat up this OshKosh-sporting bullshit, but I don’t. If you want a lesson in the childlike wonder department, listen to, I dunno, almost any Flaming Lips song. Wayne Coyne’s wonder isn’t preciously innocent, it’s hard-won and the better for it. The Boy Least Like To Keep His Milk Money strikes me as a band who is marketing their music to my inner child. Well, guess what? My inner child just downed two pints of Guinness and is riding down a hill on bicycle with no helmet while shouting Tom Waits’s “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” at the top of his little lungs. My inner child doesn’t need The Boy Least Likely To Read Bollocks! and neither do I.
And there are two songs on this album with the band’s name in them. That’s another too-cute for words gimmick that I won’t tolerate. Unless your band is called Fuck You and every song on your album is called “Fuck You”, I’m not interested in your coy incorporation of your band name into song names. Fuck you.
Even the album cover pisses me off at this point. It’s a terrified, cute little animal in a toy tank. Isn’t that precious? I realize I’m raggin pretty hard on the cuteness thing, but here’s the point: no band – no band – has any business worrying about being cute or innocent or tough or sexy or any fucking thing. If you’re in a band, your focus should be on making good music. Everything about The Boy Least Likely To Make A Good Album from the album cover to the song titles to the Blues Clues cuteness of Jof Owen’s vocal “stylings” is designed to make me tell my fiance (or some other hapless bystander) that The Boy Least Likely To Say “Shit” Even if He Had A Mouthful is just so gosh darn refreshingly cute. Well, I’m the boy least likely to ever tell anyone to listen to The Boy Least Likely To. And I’m apparently out of jokes about their name.