“Man Shed Head Crisis” (LP) by Badgertrap
In a swirling pool of sonic textures and fragmented shards of a vibrant instrumental fabric, we discover the first few layers of melodicism that will act as our introduction to Man Shed Head Crisis, the new album from critically acclaimed experimentalist and punk singer/songwriter Badgertrap, in the song “Spandex Boy.” While more plodding and progressively tension-creating than its successor in the tracklist, “Cat Food Fairy,” is, “Spandex Boy” was probably the perfect song to kick off Man Shed Head Crisis, as it wholly embodies the duality of the material found on this disc while only teasing the grandiosities that will come pouring out of the stereo as we drift through the sonic wasteland Badgertrap has so exquisitely constructed for us in this, his latest release.
The one-two punch of “Well Up For It” and “Just Like School” creates a dense barrier between the gallop of the instrumentation and the brittle textures created by our singer’s fragile vocal performance, but in “Despite Everything,” the psychedelic undertow suggested only in muted rays earlier on in “Spandex Boy” starts to come into focus and take hold of the album’s direction without warning. The split-screen stomp of percussive crashing and bludgeoning acoustic guitar parts continues on into “Wax,” and even though there’s an argument to be made that whenever Man Shed Head Crisis feels like it’s veering towards normalcy it relents into a visceral grind of noise and harmonious discordance, I don’t think Badgertrap’s sole goal in this record was to create chaos repurposed as punk poetry. From where I sit, his composing style here is simply too complex for that to be the case.
“Scrotum” spikes the midsection in Man Shed Head Crisis with a bit of sharply colorful melodies before turning us over to the grungy “How Long” and, eventually, “Sandwich-Sex,” which sounds hauntingly freeing by comparison to the other songs on the latter half of this LP. Wedged between “How Long” and “Slug,” “Sandwich-Sex” feels like an intermission but plays out like a segue into the blistering singer/songwriter content waiting for us in “No Time for a Crap,” which is my favorite song on the album (currently, at least). There’s no question that depending on the order in which you listen to these tracks, you’re likely to take away something very artsy from Badgertrap’s new album, but had it not been as carefully arranged as it was, I don’t know if it would be as accessible to novice audiences as it is this player’s most loyal of fans.
Man Shed Head Crisis comes to a conclusion with the burly, swaggering sway of “Young Girls,” which is ironically the most straight-laced song on the record, but ties together the loose ends of the tracks the preclude it rather perfectly nonetheless. Badgertrap has been out of the spotlight for a minute now, slaving away on what would become this latest slab of experimental exuberance, but for the wait that was required to hear its twelve songs, I think it certainly lives up to the buzz that surrounded its debut. Simply put, occasional punks should be satisfied here, while serious audiophiles will probably be swept away on the spot.