That One Eyed Kid – Crash and Burn
Naysayers who still think pop music isn’t capable of leaving a last mark are like moon deniers. What can you say? You can pull this EP up, perhaps, and make some sort of dent. That One Eyed Kid, Josh Friedman’s band project, has released three popular and acclaimed EP’s in the indie world and this third one, Crash and Burn, shapes up to be his finest realized effort to date. It is a five song collection hinging on the various ways he employs electronic sounds to realize his musical ends. He has no shortage of imagination and records electronic instruments like synths, sequencers, and drum machines with the sort of warmth you might imagine being the sole providence of analog instruments. He also manages, at every turn, to make significant personal statements with his work that fit remarkably well within these musical surroundings.
It’s difficult to beat the beautiful pop bliss that opens the EP with “Bright Big Red”. Even a hook filled track like this doesn’t escape Friedman’s personal touch, however, as the lyrics manifest an unexpected intimacy and even desperation at certain points. There’s some interesting sounds in the song that Friedman makes use of and the song length is tailored well for what the track sets out to accomplish. “Burn Out Right” has some of the more intelligent songwriting on Crash and Burn, both musically and lyrically, but Friedman maintains an even hand throughout the entirety of the performance. It has a much more straight ahead approach than the first song, but it shares the same sort of lean focus, intense musicality, and well produced keyboard sounds. “Native Advertising”, however, forsakes the comparatively bare bones structure heard in the EP’s first two tracks in favor of a much more orchestrated arrangement that only indulges in a small preamble before bowling listeners over with a wall of sound. Even here, however, Friedman never abandons the pop musicality bringing him to the dance and the mix of these disparate elements makes for a meaningful excursion from the EP’s established formula.
“No Touching” will wow many listeners as Friedman takes on, in full, the trappings of a R&B or soul performer and flawlessly pulls it off. The slinky textures he achieves seem unlikely with a battery of drum machines and synthesizers, but it’s all quite convincing. The vocal is the song’s high point. Friedman confidently explores his upper register and never shows even an inkling of losing his way. It segues dramatically into the EP’s closing curtain, a track entitled “Rewind”. This isn’t significantly shorter or longer in duration than any of the EP’s earlier efforts, but clearly aspires to be a conclusive final statement and Friedman, in a sense, does pull out a lot of the stops for this ending. It pays off with a song that combines the best of the EP’s competing approaches – some moments have crystalline clarity when others achieve chest-rattling density. That One Eyed Kid’s Crash and Burn is one of the most creative electronica releases in recent memory and masters fundamentals reaching far beyond quaint notions of genre.