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The quote atop Make Believe’s debut long-play release’s companion one-sheet may surprise certain factions of the Tim Kinsella Appreciation Society: “This is the first time I’ve been able to be in a band that feels like [the one] I’ve always wanted to be in.” Well shit, Tim: you sure as heck wasted your creative juices on Joan Of Arc and Owls et al these past years, didn’t cha?
Members of the aforementioned indier-than-most club should already be up to speed with this particular project: Make Believe are Joan Of Arc with different songs, basically, and the difference between Shock Of Being and last year’s JoA effort …Mark Twain… is absolute from the outset. Whereas that beast was docile and adorable, despite its occasional inability to use its litter tray, Shock Of Being is the sign on the gate reading: WARNING. I LIVE HERE. Fangs, drool, et cetera.
Folk unmoved by the apparent inaccessibility of Deerhoof and similarly-inclined art rockers proper – those with compositional complexities rather than fancy barnets, you understand – will despise Kinsella and company’s preference for confusion over coherency, which never manifests itself better than on the screech-peppered ‘Say What You Mean’. There’s something about politics in there, and a wandering guitar that never fully riffs itself into a knot but nevertheless chases its tail for some four minutes, but any subtleties are decimated by Kinsella’s oddball “HIIIIIIIIYEEEEEEEEEE… …AAAAAARRRRGGGGH” outbursts. It’s language deconstructed and rebuilt into something as equally challenging as the music about it; suffice to say his histrionics will rub many a man up the wrong way.
Elsewhere, Shock Of Being bears slight traces of the prog-rock tendencies of Owls, and lyrical gems are unearthed with ease thanks to some crisp production – a favourite is “Someone taught the cat to Moonwalk, and it’s become a real show off” from the stuttering and deftly plucked (by master fretman Sam Zurick) ‘Small Apartment Party Epiphany’. Kinsella’s ability to switch his tone from tender to terrifying in an instant lends an additional waft of unpredictability to a record utterly characterised by its quirkily askew musical leanings; “I’m making the bed with you in it” might not sound nightmarish, but when it bleeds from Kinsella’s throat, it’s sufficiently chilling to stop the Walkman listener in their tracks.
“When trouble comes I say thank you,” he offers early in proceedings; we, as the onlookers, can only hide under our blankets and behind our sofas as these four men embrace such tidings and subsequently re-write the rock music rule book. Shock Of Being won’t aid Kinsella’s rise to the creative summit conquered only by Björk and Mike Patton this decade – in the more open-minded members of the public’s eyes at least – but it does add yet another twist to the ever-expanding tale of his musical life. There’s more life in a second of Shock Of Being than in the freshly-racked Monday morning Top 40; please, don’t suffocate on mediocrity when ingenuity and craft can bear such disfigured delights as this.
Rewinding some paragraphs post-appreciation, one can almost believe Kinsella’s one-sheet sickener.