The Ants

The Ants

Sparkling Disaster Strategies

Sick Room

Sparkling Disaster Strategies is one of those albums that makes me question whether or not I even like music. Maybe I’m just one of the philistines with no real appreciation for the new and daring things being done with music all around me while I sit at home with my favorite Beatles record, talking about the war and pissing myself hourly. Maybe I missed the memo that said song structure had gone out of style, and I’ve been trying to catch up ever since.

Whatever the case may be, my introduction to what Sick Room Records pushes as “A fine collection of songs crafted by a rotating cast of musicians from America’s heartland,” just dragged on for what seemed like hours. And for a thirty minute record, this seems like a bad sign. I actually had to listen to it twice to hear it all the way through, as the first time I was knocked out in the middle of the second song and slept through the rest of the album. I suppose it’s not too late to switch the marketing campaign from compact disc to soporific.

It’s not that the songs are bad, per se, but just that there doesn’t really seem to be much of a song anywhere on the disc. Each track just sort of rambles on, without any recognizable or enjoyable form or substance. Sick Room proudly pronounces the use of sixteen instruments on the album, but it all runs together and might as well be one, for all the good it does. The lyrics, while perhaps providing great insight into the world as we know it under a closer study, seem — at first two listens, anyway — more like pages taken out of Pavement’s wastebin. Sick Room calls it “surreal” and “irreverent,” but it just sounds like gibberish.

In all fairness, The Ants could be one of those bands that takes a while to grow on you. But frankly, after forcing myself to stay awake during the second listen, I really couldn’t be bothered to give it the chance. So maybe the lyrics would have taken on greater meaning, and the sonic drone more character, had I the mental fortitude to try and understand this band. As it stands, I came out of the experience feeling as if I’d just sat down to a steak dinner and been served oatmeal: inoffensive, but bland, and it gets old really fast if you don’t put in some jelly or brown sugar. And there’s just so many other things on the menu that I could be trying.

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