Pujol: Kludge

Pujol: Kludge – “We’re gonna use our paws to rock and roll for good tonight, instead of complacent, negligent, self-hating evil!” proclaims Daniel Pujol over the sounds of dogs barking and glass breaking on ‘Post Grad,’ one of the most dysfunctional cuts from his eponymous band’s latest release, Kludge. The good he refers to, based solely on the lyrical content of Pujol’s third full-length, appears to be the banishment of old solipsistic habits and the acknowledgment of the world outside of ourselves, making Kludge play like a re-coming-of-age rock opera, a punk rock self-help manual for the inner-turmoil conflicted, or a series of arbitrarily chaotic noise clips inspired by a universe equally directionless. And “chaotic noise” is easily the most concise description of Pujol’s distinctively disgruntled southern garage rock art brut (top genre tags from last.fm’s flummoxed listeners include: “kickasstic,” “recommended,” “pay attention,” and the ever-unfolding blanket term “indie”), which on Kludge appears particularly amorphous. Daniel’s nasal rasp resembles that of an over-caffeinated John McCauley of Deer Tick and his mangy orchestra’s tumult appropriately suits this, well, kickasstic chaos. In fact, Daniel Pujol was most likely the kid in your class who always finished his Scantron tests way before everyone else while miraculously passing all his classes. All his philosophy classes, at least. The bulk of Kludge wrestles with the inherent struggles of the over-thinking man, as the narrator constantly sounds conflicted in pinning down his identity. The brash opener ‘Judas Booth’ introduces the issue via a grotesque pep talk about “getting back into the swing of things” after a terrible year of subservience to one’s worse half and finding full-time employment in eschewing suicide. Feeling Judased by his former self, Pujol vows to “kiss [old Daniel’s] mouth before [new Daniel] blows [old Daniel’s] brains out against the wall,” setting a unique mood for the album that’s equal parts philosophically insightful and garage rock-ily delightful. “The old me and the new me are in a fist fight!” Daniel shouts repeatedly on angst-ridden highlight ‘Manufactured Crisis Control’ with energy unparalleled and apologies unvocalized. By mid-album Pujol’s yet to have his caffeinated beverage shelved out of reach - even such relatively-slow burners as ‘Dark Haired Suitor’ sound concerned with obsessive untidiness. It isn’t until Daniel matches the stature of folkdom’s most elevation-gifted strummer that tongue vacates cheek – the surprisingly heartfelt and aptly haunting ‘Spooky Scary’ features a suddenly-naked Pujol revealing his seemingly simple fantasy (“to watch Dr. Who with you and the bunnies” after a long day of work), as well as his rational fear of the vampiric world, after countless existential complications. The whimsical pre-closer ‘Small World’ appears brilliantly conclusive at first (“I don’t wanna mistake my world for the whole world”) in it’s anti-solipsistic sentiment, but instead asserts that this conclusion is based upon a concern that the ennui of the self-centered “my world” may apply to the infinitely broader “whole world.” This, of course, is meant to remind us that Kludge should excel not as Pujol’s manifesto, but as a garage rock album in an infinite universe full of other garage rock albums, an infinitesimality explored on ‘Youniverse,’ the album’s final track. Accompanied by distant fireworks (and followed by an abrasive happy birthday wish of an encore), ‘Youniverse’ celebrates infinity with excitable twanging guitar and heavy chug-and-plunk bass, recognizing the proximity of those within arm’s reach and seizing the opportunity to reach out and touch them before we’re all dead – a simple observation, as many of the band’s most insightful realizations are. While Daniel’s ideas are actually quite complex, Pujol serves as a playful outlet for a mismatched kludge of influences – mostly from within classrooms and garages nationwide – and Kludge strikes an impressive balance between thoughtful discourse and thoughtless clamor that’s anything but complacent…8.5/10

‘Manufactured Crisis Control’

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