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2 stars Only the oddball eyeballs of the Residents would dare conceive a concept album about a sex-addicted circus clown. But in the typically obscure fashion of the band there's more to it than just a warped idea.

Don't be misled by the slap-happy title and clever design (take another look: that cover is more revealing than you think). The album actually presents a somewhat disturbing, all-too accurate dissection of the male libido, not exactly a cheerful subject, despite the grinning clown metaphor. And isn't there something intrinsically sinister about circus clowns anyway?

The packaging is certainly lavish, in mini-book form with lyrics and supplemental narrative text, some of it uncomfortably explicit (at least to my own prudish tastes). And disguised within the album artwork is more male genitalia than in a Mitchell Brothers blue movie.

But the project is undermined by two nagging flaws. First: like too many concept albums (and why does the name ROGER WATERS suddenly come to mind?) the music itself is subordinate to the concept. Which means there aren't enough actual tunes worth revisiting after an initial spin.

And second: unlike other, better Resident albums this one is conspicuously lacking the deadpan alien humor that always made their music so unique and endearing.

I certainly don't begrudge the group their need to be regarded as serious artists (if it is, in fact, still a group, and not a single remaining Resident, as I suspect). But even at their conceptual best ("Third Reich and Roll", "Eskimo") there was always a (sometimes twisted) vein of irreverent tongue-in-cheek subversion running just below the bayou twang and nursery school rhymes.

Granted, this is an album always intended for uneasy listening. But in the long run there isn't enough musical interest (which ought to be the first concern of any concept album) to sustain it for over 61- total minutes. Put it this way: do you really want to spend an hour in the company of a sex-crazed slapstick comedian?

Report this review (#203931)
Posted Saturday, February 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars 'The Tweedles' is the Residents at their most controversial concerning the maniacal musings of a perverted clown. We hear all his contorted thoughts and venture into his jaded world with bizarre music and melodies, occasional singing such as on The Perfect Lover. More often we are hearing his narrations and sometimes there are some oddities that really strike home as coming from a deranged but intelligent mind; 'The memory thing is kind of like eating, we don't bother to remember what it felt like eating that steak when we were really hungry, slicing into the charred flesh and watching, as the ruby juice flows from the fresh incision, and out onto the otherwise pristine plate. And the same single minded dedication that goes into eating that steak duplicates itself in the pursuit of physical pleasure. Hunger and sexual gratification, is there anything else?'

The clown is lonely and disturbed and even considers himself as disgusting; a reject of society that is unwanted and unloved. He imagines himself as a cannibalistic predator, he muses on his humanity and his lack of it and there are a lot of expletives to wade through.

Brown Cow has some unsettling lyrics 'He said that he loved me and, He told me that he cared, He said that he loved the way, I walked and I was weird, Now he hovers over me, And motions in the air, He's pointing at the oven, And I'm getting really scared.' The clown talks of how she melts at his feet with a confused look on her face and he points at the oven door and she begins to blubber like a baby. He sounds like a sociopath and has no emotions, perhaps he killed her, and he is killing many others and is telling us about his feeling towards his victims. This is demented stuff.

Ugly At The End is even more disturbing talking about how his mother died an ugly death. Keep Talking is a jaded conversation with the clown desperately trying to persuade his girl that he didn't have an affair but of course we know he did as he is a nymphomaniac. The album closes with Shame on Me and finally the clown reveals his true name which is his childhood name for his member, we all know that is of course The Tweedles. So that's his secret revealed.

What a bizarre album. I can manage 2 stars as this is too unpleasant for repeated listening.

Report this review (#1071003)
Posted Saturday, November 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars Just when you thought The Residents might be acquiring a little taste in their subject matter, they turn around and release "Tweedles" in 2006 to prove that no material is too creepy for them. This time around, the topic is that of the torn feelings of a sexually deviant clown.

The Residents had been left without a studio as theirs was being remodeled to be up to par with new Earthquake requirements, and a friend of theirs invited them to tour his new studio in Romania, so while there, they decided to record a new album. Keeping with the themes of spookiness and Romania, they decided to do a concept album about a different kind of vampire, one that used people's desires and feelings against them by loving them and then leaving them destitute. A kind of soul sucking jerk, if you will. So, this disturbing concept seemed to fit into their weirdness, probably the most disturbing of all of their albums. The decision to do it as a first person account, from the perspective of the deviant clown, was pretty typical for the band. The clown can't help himself and acts disconnected from his actions, yet he knows what he is doing is a bad thing.

There was a choice to bring in more acoustic instruments and not rely on electronics so much, which was a good choice and it made their music much better. They also enlisted the help of The Film Orchestra of Budapest which brought a whole new side to their music. The first two tracks, "Dreams" and "Almost Perfect" utilize a piano and some interesting effects and textural vocals. The vocals are quite deep and eerie, as you would expect from a mentally disturbed clown. Instrumentally, these tracks are quite pensive and lovely, but the vocals are creepy, both the solo vocals and background vocals. Then the lyrics of "The Mark of the Male" take you unaware and by the end of this track, you will know if you want to continue listening or not. Though somewhat comedic, they can be offensive, and the screeching and sudden loudness of the instrumentals will help you decide if you want to continue this escapade. Remember, this is avant garde music, so you can expect the harshness, dissonance, and strangeness of that music. The vocals also vary from sung lyrics to spoken word passages. The CD booklet has the spoken word passages printed at the front, and the sung lyrics toward the back. Not sure why they did it this way.

"Isolation" utilizes the orchestra along with electronics, and gives a cinematic feel to the story. It changes from ambient to dramatic several times and is mostly instrumental. "Stop Signs" is utterly spooky and creepy, but again the orchestration is perfect. This general feel of a disturbing atmosphere continues through the rest of the album with instrumental sections spot on, but the vocals and subject matter hard to listen to. I had this same problem with "God in 3 Persons" which this album is similar to, but with the use of orchestra.

Some might find this entertaining, but I have a hard time with the vocals staying somewhere in a narrative nature. The lyrics will make you uncomfortable, no doubt about that, and I have found that to be true in other albums from The Resdients, but I also find some of them listenable and effective, as in the "Wormwood" album, but on this one, I find it annoying. Since the instrumental sections are good, and the vocals are annoying, I can at least give this a 3 star rating, but it isn't one that I take the time to listen to very often.

Report this review (#2097662)
Posted Sunday, December 16, 2018 | Review Permalink

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