Famously Alive by Guerrilla Toss album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions

Sub Pop Records


Guerrilla Toss

Famously Alive

Brooklyn psych-dance-punk band Guerrilla Toss, have had quite the trajectory. From the experimental punk of Eraser Stargazer to the fine-tuned celebratory pop of GT Ultra, to their latest offering, Cannibal Capital, which finds them just as edgy, but much more spacious, molding their out-there sensibilities into what sounds like the future of pop music. While in the past, they have been compared to art-pop bands, such as the Talking Heads or B-52s, the vocal direction on this album, with Kassie Carlson’s breathy, sugary vocals and the simplicity-complexity of their alternative pop, gives them both an accessibility and a uniqueness that surpasses all of their previous recordings and can only be defined as their own.

The album starts out with what seems to be a critique of our current capitalistic culture. “Live in filth / sick, lickin’ the poison / anti-health / wealth of happiness stolen.” “That cannibal capital makes everything sensory.” While companies seek to capitalize off of our senses, however, Guerrilla Toss point to a higher spirituality, a self-love that seizes the day for all it’s worth, all packaged in its own super-sensory packaging. “I’m feeling godly, but just for me.”

These are songs to soundtrack our ever-more interesting lives. Like the title track, “Famously Alive,” where Carlson belts out in an elongated croon over cut time drums, “Stay famous / Famous in your mind / Keep it famous / Famous all the time.” It’s a simple concept, to be sure, but something that captures the imagination fully, as we dream just what would make us unique, memorable, and lasting in our mind and in the eyes of others, and live it out.

While the album starts out political and ends political, the bulk of the album is general well-wishes for us to “Live Exponential,” seek our “Wild Fantasy,” and be a “Happy Me.” They are experts, both lyrically and sonically, at creating a simple sensation using complex ingredients. They don’t seem to be any less challenged than in the past to fill out their tunes with experimental goodness, but they’ve found a way to make it even more digestible to a greater audience.

One of my favorite tracks, lyrically, on the album is “Excitable Girls,” which acts like an infinity loop, Carlson being thankful for those who love her music who are thankful for Carlson’s excitability, ad infinitum. While I think my favorite song on the album, sonically, is the title track, a fitting pick to center the album around, with Carlson’s beautiful vocal performance and its pogo stick beat that plays throughout. This is music that picks you up, while acknowledging that to do that is battle, whether you’re partying or you’re picketing. “Tiny wires powering something bigger / I’m alive, energize, fuck the quitter.”

Order Famously Alive by Guerrilla Toss HERE