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Busdriver - Beaus$Eros

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Artist: Busdriver

Album: Beaus$Eros

Label: Fake Four / Circle Into Square

Review date: Feb. 29, 2012

With everything online these days, Busdriver releasing an essentially electro-indie rock record with barely any rapping shouldn’t disorient anyone. Posts on indie blogs and tracks released in advance of the album and the standard millennial PR push are not only used to create an all-encompassing web of awareness, but can also, in cases where artists make drastic changes, be used to acclimate their listeners. Dip a toe in with the video for “Kiss Me Back to Life” or the single “Ass to Mouth.” Busdriver, known to his friends as Regan John Farquhar, has been trending towards this for years, as well – releasing an Animal Collective cover, working with Islands and Deerhoof, starting a band called Physical Forms, singing songs on his own previous albums – the pieces are kind of there for anyone that wants to put them together. Nevertheless, when I first listened to Beaus$Eros, my first reaction was a visceral “What the fuck is this?”

Farquhar is great because he’s quick, weird, funny, smart, politically pointed without being strident, and overall, fun. He can sing, certainly, but it’s never been his selling point – though perhaps to grossly call it a “selling point” in the first place is wrong. While Beaus$Eros retains his playfulness and wordplay, and while the songs are without doubt catchy, Farquhar is out of his depth.

A quick aside: As I’ve argued in previous Dusted reviews, I think the best art – in any medium – tends to take disparate, even contradictory, ideas and weaves them together in a way that feels organic. Not only does this create new, interesting art that isn’t just some post-modern genre mash-up, but part of the appeal is feeling the tension between the ideas within the art, the feeling that it could spiral out of control at any minute, and that in the hands of someone less-talented, it would be a mess (the landscape is littered with these muddled artworks).

What sets Busdriver apart from many of his peers is his ability to do just this, to control a lot of different aesthetic and cultural ideas that might not naturally fit together, and to do it well. The thing is, in hip hop, he’s had years to perfect this (he’s been rapping since 1987). While Beaus$Eros certainly has his voice and an authorial hand behind it, as he moves into a new genre, his skills are weak, both compared to his own work and to other artists working within the genre. None of this is to reprimand Busdriver or to say he should stick with what he’s become good at – no one, especially a critic, has the right to tell an artist what to do – but rather to say, if he’s going to try and write indie rock songs, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of focus for them to be as interesting as his hip hop.

By Andrew Beckerman

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Find out more about Fake Four / Circle Into Square

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