Never one deterred by the constraints of time, Jake Robertson’s packing another band into his repertoire. On top of the already great LP from School Damage this year, not to mention current stints in Hierophants, Ausmuteants, and Drug Sweat, Robertson’s taking the solo approach under the name Alien Nosejob. With a couple of seven-inches under the name already, he’s been honing the sound on the sly, but with Various Fads & Technological Achievements he’s ready to take it wide. The album skews away from his normal niche of wobbly post-punk and nervy flop sweat jitter-punk ala Pere Ubu and MX-80. This time he’s taking a softer approach, or at least a slightly less caustic approach.
Weaving folk – albeit not the campfire coolout variety, think Carl Simmons’ Honeysuckle Tendrils – with new wave notions and synth-pop propulsion, the LP is gulping a little less lightning than usual for Robertson. That’s not to say this is a tame affair, it’s clear that Alien Nosejob’s MO includes dragging the same strange vein of pop that produced R. Stevie Moore, most of the Dark Entries catalog, and the less commercial output of Game Theory. Throw in a dash of the shoestring ‘Zappa with a rhythm box’ sounds of Geza X and you’re starting to get close to what’s at play here. Now while that’s all a lot of discordant pop to throw in the ol’ blender, the outcome winds up rather smooth. Alien Nosejob goes down straight, but the tics around the eyes give away its twinge of madness.
The other outcome here is that with so much stuffed into the sausage skin of Alien Nosejob, there’s sometimes a bit of whiplash between the neon reflections of “Runaway” and the pastoral peace of “Exothermic Reaction.” It all fits together in its reaching for the pop “other,” but there’s a feeling that this album’s catching up on the odds and sods of what’s been hammering at Jake’s skull outside of his last few records. It’s a great match strike, and it seems like Alien Nosejob’s got a freakish concept album in its future (if its meant to have a future). Taken as singular parts, however, there’s quite enough new wave jitter here to pack yer speakers for weeks.
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