Fergus & Geronimo – Funky Was the State Of Affairs (2012)
Fergus & Geronimo are a duo from Texas who formed around 2008; Funky Was the State of Affairs is their second full-length album after Unlearn (2011).
It’s really hard to know what to make of Funky Was the State of Affairs, it is evident that Fergus & Geronimo keep their tongue very firmly in their cheek, but they don’t seem to be as overtly satirical as they perhaps wanted to be; and, in that respect, they feel like a more narrowly focussed Ween, Mothers of Invention or Residents. So they tend to stay in fairly safe musical territory; on the whole, this is lo-fi indie rock with a great deal of influence from the late 70s/early 80s, but interspersed with pretty obscure short skits, taking in paranoia, intergalactic dating, conspiracy theories and elevator muzak.
No Parties is the first song on the album and, along with later track, Off The Map, sounds a fair bit like the B-52s. Continuing in the same vein, Roman Tick harks to the punk/garage rock era, sounding like the Buzzcocks or Stiff Little Fingers, while Spies is a totally anachronistic track compared with the rest, sounding like the Kinks or the Small Faces, and seems altogether out of place (not that the “place” is easy to place, if you know what I mean). Earthling Men is pure Devo-influenced choppy pop and Roman Numerals is an ode to the titular numeric representations, discussing everything from Star Wars prequels, Rambo sequels and World Wars to volumes of books and Boyz II Men, all in a They Might Be Giants crossed with Sesame Street style (in retrospect here, this track reminds me of The Most Unwanted Song, a “scientifically made” track incorporating all the most hated musical cliches, made by artists Komar and Melamid, along with experimental musical composer Dave Soldier, who composed for Sesame Street on a number of occasions). The title track, Funky Was the State of Affairs ends the album and is a fairly good rhythm and blues freak out, with wailing sax, pounding drums and funky basslines, again anachronistic to the rest, but a suitable closer.
Overall the scope is relatively narrow and it all feels a bit like a joke you don’t quite get or don’t quite find that funny. Not to be completely unfair to Fergus & Geronimo, the music is good, but It is hard to tell where their honest intent ends and the satire starts; almost as though they are a bit less satirical than they think they are. Maybe a few more listens will make me “get it”?
Favourite tracks: Roman Numerals/Wiretapping Muzak I, Earthling Men, Funky Was the State of Affairs
Bandcamp link: http://fergusandgeronimo.bandcamp.com/album/funky-was-the-state-of-affairs-lp-2012
Spotify link: Fergus & Geronimo – Funky Was the State of Affairs