Jersey Beat Review!
Less Miserable - Insufficient Funds (Rhodehouse)
This Calgary-based punk pop outfit harkens back to the days of singing along with sweaty friends in a dim basement. If that description doesn’t bring forth a specific sound to you, it should! If you’re wondering if the music is any good, it is! Lead singer James has a great, pained caterwaul that hangs onto that melody like you grip on a carnival ride. The tone and delivery reminds of midwest punks like Delay and Jeff Rosenstock’s work in Bomb The Music Industry. The lyrical content is par for the course - the world is going to hell in a handbasket so let’s hurry up and do this!
The playing here is unceremonious and loud but not sloppy. The drumming often gets riffy, which is a welcome treat since it’s done well, and really lends itself to the band’s erratic approach to song structure. Side A gives us the multi-movement “Horses Held”, the bouncy “Functional Embarrassment” the rage-quit of “Burn, Athabasca, Burn” the near-90s-alternative of “The Last Lonely Boy” and the Weakerthans-meets-Gainsville Fest “Sleepwalker”.
Side B offers more variety with the upstroking “Almost Fun” and the zippy, whoa-oh heavy “Soul In Progress”. “It Costs A Lot To Be This Cursed” gets questionably psychedelic and metallic, and the album ends on the anthemic affirmation of “Keep In Touch.” Every step of the way is like putting together a puzzle, where a solo comes in, or the verse/chorus/verse pattern turns on a dime, and you don’t think it fits, but then you rotate the piece and voila, it *does* go together! I’m calling it jigsaw punk and it’s a fine way to pass the time. - Mark Hughson