Artists like Phoebe Bridgers and Christian Lee Hutson have upped the ante for what listeners expect from the indie rock scene, with their genius and genuine melodies and their clever and empathetic lyrics. Boy Genius’ tidal wave of popularity, well deserved, is a sign that listeners want intelligence in craft and content from their music. Al Menne’s latest offering, Freak Accident, is music worthy of this wave of folk-influenced indie pop, produced by Christian Lee Hutson himself.
“Do you remember sayin’, “It’d scare you to death / to know how much I love you?’ / Kill me now, please,” Al opens their latest album on probably the most adventurous track, sonically, on the venture. Like Hutson and Bridgers before them, there’s a relatable fragility to many of the songs. “Okay, well who decided /this is the way that I live? / Loose reins, there is no saddle / No more than I can handle / Uh huh,” is the way they put it on the piano loper, “Saddle.”
The much awaited and title song, “Freak Accident,” is the centerpiece and middle point of the album. You had to wonder what kind of accident that Al was in to inspire the album title. Unfortunately (or really fortunately, I guess), it is a metaphor, not a real life experience, that defines the record. “I’m a freak accident / Head-on collision, just waiting to happen.” It begs the question, what is worse, going through tragedy or always being afraid that tragedy is going to happen. They are both their own kind of hell.
Al Menne makes the most of their melancholy, however, turning it into palpable empathy, a hinge pin of the Boy Genius movement. There is a lot of Phoebe Bridgers in these songs, though she, of course, is not the first to do what she’s doing. Like Bridgers’ collaboration with Connor Oberst, it is becoming a family affair, this indie rock thing. And considering some of the stories that adorn these records, (like Menne’s “Beth,” which could be about “sadistic” family members,) there is something about choosing your family instead of getting stuck with the one you’re born into.
That’s the feel of this wave of indie rock: that there are sisters and brothers out there, singing their songs and singing along, to help us all grow up right in a difficult and often twisted world. Like the last song on the album, “Careful Heart,” says, “Do you want to build a little life with me? / I do want to build a little life with you.” Freak Accident is a group of tender songs that allow the heart to feel, even when it’s hard to find meaning (see the one minute “Feeling/Meaning”). They are expertly crafted songs that add to an already thrilling movement of music. This is another album that will define this generation.
order Freak Accident by Al Menne HERE
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