The Airbag's Lipstick Kiss (Desiccant Records 03) Rating: A-
As Neil Sedaka and anyone else will tell you, breaking up is hard to do. Being on the wrong end of a breakup is even harder, of course, as Chris Willie Williams, a.k.a. the one-man band who is Disclaimer, would be the first to tell you. In fact, he does just that throughout The Airbag's Lipstick Kiss, which, in true Blood On The Tracks-type fashion, tries to come to terms with his feelings of hurt and betrayal after his "significant other" became significant no more. And though sometimes this can be a painfully personal listening experience, especially in its more self-pitying moments, Chris' clever wordplay (including loads of entertaining pop culture references) and consistently inventive music generally makes the pain go down easy. That's not to say the album is perfect by any means; I've never really warmed up to "Fixing A Hole," "Like The Backside Of A Bulimic's Teeth (#1 Bats = Bugs)" (ok, Chris can sometimes be a little too cute, but if you got it you may as well flaunt it, right?), and the bonus track, which attempts to end the album on a more upbeat note, almost as if to say "don't worry about me, I'm going to be ok." Still, the rest of the album is rife with potential highlights, such as "God Said "Plastics!," which is funky, dreamy, and poppy all at once, with choice lyrical nuggets along the lines of "would becoming a Monk halt the hollow "thunk" in my chest where she had been?" as well. The industrial grunge of "Vending Machine" is also impressive, while the finger-pointing riff rocker "You Ruined Everything" and the moodier "Please Pardon Our Progress!!!" (with guest vocals from Joe Hinchcliffe) wouldn't sound all that out of place on Nuggets. I wouldn't call Chris a great singer, but "Generic Shoulder Blade Tattoo" is still awfully pretty, and this is a rare album that actually gets better as it goes along, with the hallucinatory "Mufasa Kisses" and the hazy psychedelia of "De Sitter Horizons" being undeniable highlights. Things get even better on "Hell," the album's obvious choice for a hit single; that Chris could take lyrics such as "In the end, the love you take, is inversely proportional to the love you make" and turn it into such a ridiculously catchy chorus is testament to his talent, and "Wrong For the Right Reasons Is Still Wrong," a jaunty, flamenco-flavored little number with a vocal that reminds me of Elliott Smith, is almost as good. Granted, those who aren't into "indie pop," especially of the homemade variety (there are times when some real studio time and an actual band might have helped matters), might need some time to warm up to this album. After all, its musical range is pretty wide, and often it's the details in the background (homemade or not, Chris knows what he's doing) that make this album such an absorbing and enriching experience upon repeat listens. So, if you like smart pop music that isn't overly obvious, and are willing to invest a little time and effort into a detailed album that you may not "get" right away, do yourself a favor and go to http://www.disclaimerband.com/buy.html. You'll be glad that you did.

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