Childhood Friends - Key Party
Record Label: None
Release Date: July 4, 2008
This album may have caused me to fail an exam.
Hoping to fill out my study time with a couple of listens to prepare me for this review, I made the mistake of taking Childhood Friends’ Key Party to my school library. The headaches that ensued made any understanding impossible as I stared blankly at my textbooks. Be forewarned, listening to Key Party is like being dragged in chains through some of the more unpleasant parts of the human psyche.
If that sounds appealing to you, read on.
The album opens with “Used To Be Good”, a track that tells the listener what to expect of the album’s first half: lo-fi synths that sound like something from a SNES game, overlaid by actual instrumentation and other audio samples. Ilima Considine’s perturbed vocals fill out the duo’s sound, and she comes across like a less melodic, slightly-more-deranged Bjork. When this works, as on the high-energy “Because I Wanted To” or the looming “Never Do That To You,” it works brilliantly, but some of the songs beg for a more melodic voice.
The album suddenly shifts gears when Track 6 begins. “Happy” channels an industrial feel with chaotic sounds looped over the distorted synth melody. It is also the only track to feature the vocals of Jake Rose, the other half of the Childhood Friends duo. His deep, melodic voice completes this track, and might make the listener wonder why CF didn’t try a dual-vocal approach on some of the other songs here. Each singer’s vocal talents would complement the other nicely side-by-side.
“Werewolf Song” is the album’s deranged-and-chaotic high point. The instrumentation is truly unsettling, and Considine’s vocals are better utilized here than on any other track. “It’s like in bed--are you done yet?”, she shrieks, “Because I’m done.”
After a pair of truly bizarre tracks written and performed solely by Considine, the album concludes in territory similar to where it started with “Spy Song”. There’s an exciting intro with lots of distorted guitar, but the remainder of the track sounds like a happier “Used To Be Good.”
This has been a hard album for me to review. I know Childhood Friends have perfectly accomplished what they set out to achieve in writing this album, but when your goal is to create something truly ugly, it doesn’t always translate to something listenable. This is a highly inaccessible album, and even once I decoded it I found that many track lengths outstayed their welcome or lost my interest with monotony. The elements here could be fine-tuned to create a truly great album in the future, but in the meantime we have the stunningly original Key Party, replete both with its merits and its flaws.