Review: Tweedles

Cover of "Tweedles"
Cover of Tweedles

So, we’re stealin’ the idea from the Sparks Project and doing one with probably even more records out there — The Residents!  And this time we’re changing it up a little bit — we’ve got two hardcore Residents fans in me and Rich, but Aila is, at best, a casual fan, who will be hearing about 99% of these records for the first time.  DANGEROUS!  So, enjoy, THE RESIDENTS PROJECT!

Richard J. Anderson:  Let’s get one thing out of the way, right now. The whole album is about some guy’s dick. By which I mean penis. Male. Genitalia. So, get your giggles out now.

Heh. Penis.

Okay, it’s not the greatest concept for an album ever, but somehow, The Residents make it work. If Animal Lover had this solid…

Hurr. Solid.

If Animal Lover had this solid of a concept to work with, it might not have been so bad. Recorded in Romania while The Residents studio underwent a seismic upgrade, the band gets a fresh palette and a clean slate to try something new. The music here moves in a bit more of a House Music direction, with some interesting electronic textures and rhythms, with Nolan Cook’s scorching guitar. The Residents also skillfully work in some performances by the Bucharest Film Orchestra, adding an organic lushness to the proceedings.

This is also the first real album in what The Residents call their storyteller era. Most of the songs have lyrics, but also have a long, spoken-word piece by The Singing Resident, musing on love, sex, and how awfully nice it is to have a penis. It’s pretty explicit at times, but that makes sense. You can’t talk about dongs without actually… talking about dongs.

Huh-huh… Dongs.

Right. The album. It’s good. Not great, mind you, but a huge improvement over Animal Lover in my book. The singing Resident’s vocals are fairly restrained when he’s singing. The spoken pieces are a far cry from God in Three Persons—much less laconic and detached—but serve as a good point of reference for the style. Tweedles! is very much the synthesis of the post-Demons Dance Alone sonic palette with the storytelling of God in Three Persons.

The Residents are still working out the kinks in the approach, balancing the story and the music. While it works, it doesn’t work perfectly, and Tweedles! is a little long, and turgid.

snerk “Turgid.”

Okay, I did that one on purpose.

I see Tweedles! as an interesting, focused transitional piece into some of the best work The Residents put out in the 00s, post-Demons Dance Alone. Compelling in spite of its flaws, it’s worth your time if you’re interested in late-era Residents music, and can handle talk about penises. Because there’s a lot of talk about pensies.

Rev. Syung Myung Me:  For some reason, I don’t listen to Tweedles that often, but when I do, I quite enjoy it.  It’s strange — I barely remembered anything about Tweedles other than that I seemed to have some warm feelings towards it, and the really kind of graphic bit about cutting into a steak in “Insincere” that’s so vivid it almost makes me, a big ol’ meat eater, cringe.  And then I get hungry for steak.  So, apparently, I have issues.

AND SO DOES THE NARRATOR HOW IS THAT FOR A SEGUE.  The narrator of Tweedles is a creep, and while he’s not a joiner, if he were, he’d probably be part of that icky “seduction community”.  He’s hung up on sex, and he doesn’t particularly care about the people he’s fucking.  People barely exist for him — yet, he’s lonely.  But, perhaps even this posturing is just to get the listener to feel for him… and the album ends with a shower sound, and, well, if my reaction to the album is anything to go by, he’s successful.

The sound of this album is one of the best mixes — it involves the Film Orchestra of Budapest, which makes everything sound really organic and lush, and they even use pianos and organs for keyboard sounds (mixed in with the normal synths, of course) which just makes the album feel like… an event.  Like it’s a stage play, only without seeing.  It makes me wish the Residents just decided to crash in Romania forever, sleeping on their host’s couch, eating his food, drinking his beer and using his awesome studio.

Either that, or perhaps they could smuggle the Film Orchestra of Budapest to San Francisco in their luggage.  Either way.

Seriously, check out Tweedles.  And self, listen to Tweedles more often.  It’s good, stupid!

Aila:  Tweedles is The Residents penis-and-clowns concept record. Just as we’d all been waiting for. Predictably, it’s garbage.

In some ways, it’s a minor shame that the music on this album is ruined by an almost unspeakably awful concept and songs that seem intent of showcasing the very worst vocal stylings of the band. Some of the music is alright, but the lyrical themes layered over it are definitely not, and the vocals are as obnoxious as they’ve ever been. The production is pretty solid, but it’s wasted on this.  An instrumental version of the album would probably be a significant improvement, but it still wouldn’t be anything of lasting value. As it is, whatever mild musical intrigue exists on tracks such as “Mark Of The Male” is completely destroyed by the words and their delivery. I get that this isn’t supposed to be a pleasing album. I mean, it seems to be about a clown sex offender named after his own penis (unless I’m mistaken). But there is just nothing enjoyable, amusing, or thought-provoking about any of this in my opinion. It’s just pathetic mumbling set to music. The most frustrating thing about a record like this is knowing that The Residents can do much, much better. They often don’t, but they can. Maybe they’ve run out of ideas? Perhaps senility is setting in? They have been around for quite a while, so it seems like an at least somewhat plausible assumption. Yes, I’m just going to assume that Tweedles is the result of senility.

Needless to say, I can’t recommend Tweedles to anyone. Or at least not to anyone I like in any way. This is an album that would benefit from being forgotten altogether.

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2 comments

  1. k

    Weird how opinions are that divided on this album…

    To Aila: if you heard an album about a clown’s penis in Tweedles, then you missed the whole album.
    Tweedles is essentially about a vampire who feeds on other people’s dreams. He’s an excellent manipulator and seductor, but he is completely unable to handle anything intimate or personal, which is why every relationship he had in his life was a disaster. From the one with his mother to the ones with every lover he had.

    This album is about relationships and being lost in social interactions, told from the point of view of someone who follows his primary instincts as a way to deal with all of this. Check out Almost Perfect, Isolation, Ugly at the end

    It may not be a theme you enjoy, but it’s far from being plain garbage or cheap provocation through sexual themes.

    You should try to listen to it again, as noted, the sound of this album is indeed one of the best mixes (the instrumental mix, Tabasco, is also amazing). There might be more in this release than your originally heard, give it another shot.

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