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The Residents - Freak Show CD (album) cover


The Residents



2.83 | 32 ratings

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2 stars Anyone familiar with The Residents knows that you can always expect strangeness and crazy themes as a constant in their music. Sometimes they can do the strange thing very well and other times they fall flat. So, when they came along with a concept album about a bunch of circus sideshow freaks, it just had to be a great thing, because if any one would be able to do that concept, it would be The Residents, right? Yeah, that's what I thought. Well, this album leaves a lot to be desired.

This album is the first album to be evidence of The Residents reliance on computer technology and pretty much most of the instrumentals is done completely with the MIDI, even the percussion. So, you get that terrible plastic percussion sound through the entire album. You also get nothing but synthesized instruments. Fortunately, the changing of voices and the use of female vocals along with male vocals keep things from getting totally stagnant. The songs are interesting enough and have their share of rhythm, thematic and meter changes. With actual instruments, this could have been one of their best albums, I believe. But the fake percussion is annoying and the instrumental sections have a clinical feeling to them.

The album starts out fine enough, even with the faux instrumentals. The first track "Everyone Comes to the Freak Show" shows promise in the vocals, the delivery and the progressive elements. The 2nd track "Harry the Head" is upbeat and full of humor, so you start to think you might have a good album on your hands here. But, after that, the songs tend to drag, starting out with interesting themes at first, that tend to ramble on too long before changing to another theme or idea. The lyrics are dark and humorous at least, but the music itself just isn't interesting enough and I keep finding myself wondering if I am getting to the end yet whenever I listen to this. Not a good sign! The last half of the concluding piece "Nobody Laughs When They Leave" is the only other highlight of the album as dramatic music starts to fill in, but it's too little too late to save anything.

Yes it's funny and weird, but it just doesn't live up to the better Residents albums, and this would be the case with a lot of the albums to come along for a while because of their fixation with technology. Yes The Residents usually use a lot of minimalism and synthesizer all of the time, but it's done much better. Complacency seems to be setting in during this period of their discography, but they were able to prove later that they still had some better music to come. The expectations for this album should be high, but unfortunately, the album does not live up to those expectations this time. 2 stars only.

TCat | 2/5 |


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