Rifling through the pile of new releases stacked up in the DiSopolis, two possible contenders for review emerge. I plump for what I think will be the easier option - the new Fall Out Boy single 'THNKS FR TH MMRS'. YE CHRS, CNTS. After one listen it becomes clear that sitting through the repeated listens necessary for review will not, by any stretch of the imagination, be 'easy'. So, in goes Tropism, the new record from Austin resident Bexar Bexar.
All that really changes is the type of boredom I have to endure. Whereas Wentz's crew pummel you numb with the sheer monotony of their glossy, shiny whine, Bexar Bexar's flat, understated drone is just as lacking in handles. Neither are as human as they aspire to be, revelling as they do in the sort of dismal, wet-day narcissism that'd drive any real person to drink and fight. Fall Out Boy pout all surly while Bexar Bexar stare blankly into space for as long as you can before your liver bursts through your eyelids. Best not take him along the next time you invade a mate's house for Friday night antics, then.
It comes as no surprise that Bexar Bexar has a history of scoring incidental music for TV and film. This is music that needs a visual ballast, or at least some kind of imagery to reflect upon. The best in this field write music that can create this imagery itself, but Tropism is just far too weak and, as its title suggests, flounders and wilts without an external stimulus.
'Patterned Like Lovers' starts the album; an invisible bubble of plucked guitar strings and sweet half smiles. It'd be fine, you think to yourself, if the rest of the album manages to take this somewhere. But from 'Listening To Your Party' to the unbelievably soft 'Oil Thumbprints' the record just drifts away silently into nothingness, serene and delicate - serene because nothing ever happens and delicate because it’s so reliant on the surrounding environment that its very existence basically hinges on whether or not your eyes are excited. This is soundtrack music, and without visuals it just does not exist.
If you’re watching London cut past from the top deck of a bus then this could seem positively otherworldly, but if you’re sat in the office, or at home in your bedroom, then the flat melancholy of Tropism asks you to do so much of the work yourself that it turns into a dreary, sodden nag. Songs with names like ‘Sweet Devil’ get wet and clingy, until you feel like your headphones are leaches getting fat off the blood from behind your eyes and they need to be hurled full-fucking-pelt at the window. You long for Bexar Bexar to realise this himself, so that we might glean something from the scarlet explosions caught on the glass. But he doesn’t. He just stockpiles, and that’s what makes this kind of introspection so selfish.
Perhaps, after time and in the right light, you could grow to love Bexar Bexar. But for me, today, it's just too much like hard work. Extract your own blood, sucker.