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The Residents - Have A Bad Day CD (album) cover


The Residents



2.54 | 22 ratings

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2 stars Those loveable, anonymous nut-jobs behind the giant eyeballs released this 1996 album as the soundtrack to their innovative CD-Rom game "Bad Day at the Midway" (unplayed by this reviewer, but highly regarded by outsider cybernerds). It's actually more of a loosely-related supplement, sadly unable to stand on its own two feet without the crutch provided by the earlier work.

The album concept, presenting a musical tour of a malevolent back-roads carnival (the setting recalls some of the nightmare imagery of a Tod Browning or David Lynch movie) should have been well within the typically twisted Residential (dis)comfort zone. But lacking the visual element of the CD-Rom itself leaves the album, like some of its freak show subjects, a stunted curiosity, with little of the iconoclastic weirdness on which the Residents built their reputation.

My own theory is that the band actually broke up (perhaps more than once) after the difficult gestation of their classic "Eskimo" album in 1979. Certainly a lot of their subsequent efforts, this one included, sound more like the work of a one-man studio band: notice, for example, the more frequent appearance of guest musicians in later years.

All speculation, of course. But the instrumentation here is particularly thin for an ostensible quartet, performed for the most part on what sounds like a limited array of digital synths.

And while I hate playing the comparison/contrast game, it's hard not to be reminded of Nick Cave's evocative song-story "The Carney" (from his 1986 album "Your Funeral...My Trial"). In just over eight minutes the Post-Punk raconteur conjures all the allegorical unease never quite achieved in the 48-total minutes of this album.

Lucky owners of the original "Bad Day" CD-Rom might enjoy it, but for the rest of us this companion disc exists in a creative vacuum, with no real point of reference.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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