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The Residents - Lonely Teenager CD (album) cover

LONELY TEENAGER

The Residents

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.33 | 14 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars The 35th studio album from masters of Avant oddball music is "Lonely Teenager". Most of the tracks are revamped oldies from albums gone by and played to mesmirised audiences over the years. The Residents made up their mind to finally put them onto a studio release and thus this collection of atonal Ghost Stories came to fruition. The most notable thing is the absence of drums as Carlos took a break but this is one of the creepier Residents albums as a result. The music is sludgey and crawls along with layers of electronic ambience and bizarre effects. 'Six More Miles' drones along slowly with an inexorable esoteric soundscape. I like the ethereal qualities in the music and it sets the atmosphere for the album which is downbeat and unsettling.

'My Window' is next with a haunting guitar and synth, the track originally was from "Animal Lover". This song is reinvented with melancholy vocals and grungy guitar distortion. The lyrics are about Mr Coo Coo whose "eyes were black and his beak was brown, Mister Coo Coo has fallen asleep, but soon his home will be underground." The guitars are heavy and work well against the layer of ambience.

'The Unseen Sister' is weird as it slows down from a slow start and gets really bizarre with a foundation of off kilter synths and creepiness. The spoken words tell some incoherent story of a mother knocking a boiling pot off a stove that knocks her senseless and boils her features, and later there is an electrocution; the hazards of the humble kitchen rising up to strike the protagonist. These ideas are complimented with shrieks and concepts that are better left in the deranged minds of the composers. This is one of the creepiest Residents songs that I am glad I listened to with the lights on.

'Lizard Lady' is a track with lots of lyrics and the song comes from "Duck Stab/ Buster & Glen". It sounds like vintage Residents thanks to the vocal style and injections of weird musical motifs. The lyrics are compelling; "she scurries hurries worries that the wicked will receive, their candy from a handsome man and coffee from a thief, she gazes at a hourglass and asks it if it cares, and then she wonders if the lizard likes his lettuce rare." As the song builds the voice gets more aggressive and a nasty atmosphere ensues as the lizard rises from the sea and begins to lick, "coating all my lungs with honey, sticky coating running runny," and the protagonist screams "hide me from the tongue." It doesn't get much more bizarre than this and it's The Residents at their chaotic darkest best.

'The Sleepwalker' has some delightfully delirious violin as a vocal drones out monotone lyrics as only Residents can sound. This is followed by 'The Old Woman' which was originally found on "The Gingerbread Man" and is revamped again to give some hysterically nasty atmospheres with electronic vocals sounding like a deranged old woman. The lyrics are again hard to fathom but interesting; "She sent me a card on Mothers Day and has a philodendrum and a few ferns, they look terrible though just like her house, she never dusts her leaves." Basically the old woman wants to do herself in but is worried about who will take care of her plants, and orchids that will be eaten by insects." A very morbid concept is helped by quite a creepy ambience of synths. The lead guitars at the end are powerful over the synth motifs. A real curio this one and I won't play it in front of the kids.

"Boxes Of Armageddon" is a track lifted from "Bunny Boy" and given new life with some bizarre musical textures. The concept of boxes in the doorway is an iconic image and especially the verses that state they were "bulging from the weight of documents obsessed with mindless slaughter, and decay" and full of "reflections of insanity". This one reminds me of the type of conceptual material found on "Commercial Album" except a longer song.

It ends with 'Talking Light', a lengthy 10 minutes of chaotic rhythms, and it has a repeated mantra "once when I was a lonely teenager" hence the title. The music is ominous and foreboding made up of low end synths and some dissonant plucking sounds. The vocals are electronically processed, "if you find my baby inside please bury him." Later the story continues that the protagonist digs the hole and sees words 'a mother's love erases rages', and then he buries the baby skeleton and a mystical ring that reveals all. This is disturbing stuff and doesn't hold back on the morbidity. The music becomes tribalistic with bass and guitar emanating strong dissonant howls.

Overall this is one of the most disconcerting Residents albums, unabashedly oddball from beginning to end and experimental to the extreme. The creepy atmospheres may be too much for some but it is certainly compelling and generates some weird imagery in the subconscious. Definitely one of the more scary albums from The Residents, though not as good as their earlier material. Approach with caution.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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