Here is a man faced with the realities of adulthood.
Some of you may already know the story surrounding this record: In 2015 Rob Crow (Pinback, et. al.) announced that he was giving up on the music business. Not so fast, though. Late last year he announced this record from Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place. Instead of overseeing every nook and cranny of You’re Doomed. Be Nice however, a habit that had become something of a signature for him in the past, Crow invited some close friends to get in on the action.
The record touches on his mood over the last year. Here is a man faced with the realities of adulthood: feeding a family, feeding himself, paying bills and being a responsible business person in a world that’s becoming increasingly hostile to the artist. “Business Interrupts” seems to address this over a buoyant bassline and the kind of memorable melody he’s been composing for years. It’s a song that sounds surprisingly upbeat given its subject matter. But ain’t that the way it’s always been?
That track is one that’s been most talked about in the months leading up to the release of You’re Doomed. Be Nice but there’s a lot of other stuff to love here, including “Paper Doll Parts,” which sounds refreshingly like the vintage sounds of the early aughts. The guitar is cold and chiming while also being bright and warm, the melody moves in directions that are sometimes unexpected but also exhilarating. It’s its own tune, standing out from the others here and yet at peace with them.
And, yeah, there’s a dose of humor here. Let’s not forget that. Especially on “Quit Being Dicks” but also via “Unreliable Narrator” and the opener, “Oh, the Sadmakers.” There’s a lighter feel to “Rest Your Soul,” a fast-paced run through the night that demands that you stand up and throw your fists in the air with the jagged edges of the guitar figures.
There’s also an air of the mysterious that permeates the whole affair especially on “Yie Ar” and the slender, strange and somewhat prog-ish “Light On.” It’s that strangeness and tunefulness that makes these tracks stand out more than some of Crow’s work with Pinback, which could be a little monochromatic and even listless at times.
That’s decidedly not the case here on a record that doesn’t really have a bum track and which takes the listener for some delightful rides that are second to few. If Crow really tried to hang it up, that’d be a real shame, but given the energy behind this outing it seems like maybe he’s trying to negotiate life in the new model of a business that, despite its pratfalls, we all desperately need. And there are plenty of signs on You’re Doomed. Be Nice that Crow needs it too. It’s a lovely record that emerged from a difficult place but very quickly takes us beyond the hardships.