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A Faulty Chromosome - as an ex-anorexic’s six sicks exit, …

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Artist: A Faulty Chromosome

Album: as an ex-anorexic’s six sicks exit, …

Label: self-released

Review date: Dec. 3, 2008


A Faulty Chromosome - "Jackie O" (as an ex-anorexic’Äôs six sick)


Notice, if you will, that this album’s sibilant, vomit-implying title almost obeys a party trick called the prisoner’s constraint, wherein all letters with ascenders or descenders (b’s, p’s and their like) are forbidden from a text (for example, “macrocosmic excrescence”). The key here, of course, is the “almost”: By the end of the title, said constraint gets ditched for a K and a T, as though A Faulty Chromosome couldn’t be bothered to follow through.

There’s a lot more that the Austin trio would have you believe they can’t be bothered to do: tune their instruments, for example, or avoid lame puns in their song titles, or equalize such that more than 40 percent of their lyrics are decipherable. From far away ex-anorexic is a swampy mess of whining guitars and just-so electronic percolations, wobbly fake drums and vocals that sound more like vaguely mean-spirited schoolyard chants than attempts at melody. Everything is a little bleary and sour. It’s all consummately half-assed, but only in the ways that don’t count.

In the ways that do count, ex-anorexic is a gem of a pop record, shrewd and surprisingly taut. These songs are artfully disheveled like hipster hair, detuned and distressed for what usually turn out to be very good reasons. They’re not quite conventional songs covered with some spare fuzz, nor structures built up around twisted foundations – the primary songwriting and the self-conscious indolence bleed through to one another, evening out somewhere in the lyrics. “So you went to a party, Jacqueline Onassis”, begins the curdled, about-a-girl ditty “Jackie O”: “If you’re so smart, why don’t you wear glasses?” Like the others, it would have nothing to gain by being cleaner or more harmonious; it simply wouldn’t be the same song.

Naturally, though, it helps that the implicit cleaner counterparts point to a classy pedigree. New Order is a pretty fair point of comparison, thanks mostly to the thick basslines that anchor ex-anorexic’s best songs (“Them Pleasures of the Flesh,” “I’ll Stop Swimming When I Drown”). Also in spades are hints of the Magnetic Fields, or better yet of Stephin Merritt’s vanity-press act the 6ths (whose name and album titles were chosen for their tongue-twisting potential too, curiously enough), whence the ingrained smirk of what passes here for love ballads (“I just didn’t wanna sleep alone”). The echoes of both could be a tribute to or a mockery of either. The point, at least supposedly, is that it doesn’t matter.

Lots of indie rock has long presupposed that imprecision is a virtue, but A Faulty Chromosome go a step further and make it an instrument. Whatever they have invested in coming across as lazy is mysterious and probably a little sinister – but they put in the work to make the charade worthwhile, shrug after impeccably choreographed shrug, and that’s already more reason to care than No Age has ever given me.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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