Ironically, of course, it's likely to make him less "pop." As he blends in influences like Modest Mouse and Sonic Youth and M83, his writing becomes more sophisticated and less likely to find itself on the top of the pops. Nice for those of us who actually like music, though, right?
His riff on organized religion that opens the album in "Blow My Candle Out" is positively inspired, and that "big fluffy Jesus in the clouds" circles back for the finishing "In Conclusion," too, because that's just the type of holistic piece of art this album is. "Million Dollar Bill" builds from a monotone and brooding delivery through to electric guitar noodling and a Midi bassoon riff into the kind of raw desperation that makes for a resplendent chorus: "Yo Mom, I promise, I'm gonna be large."
The Audacity!'s heart, though, opens up when Spose gets outside himself. Following up the narrative take of "Christmas Song," but getting farther away from the first person, "Jimmy" is an underdog's tale of a high-school nerd taking his revenge on popular-kid-turned-meth-head as he tries to rob a CVS. It works because even as Jimmy is plotting his robbery, we hear about his "oversized jorts" (the best satirists force us to confront our reality by documenting its farcical nature), and the tune rises into a parody of the Rocky theme song as the nerd drops his MMA shit on poor Jimmy.
"Smiley Face" is legitimately chill-inducing, though. How often do you hear hip-hop artists pull off melancholy? The keyboard line here is straight off a Death Cab for Cutie album, and the "mirror to society" that Spose holds up just doesn't get held up often enough by people making music. This song brings home rural poverty and strife as well as anything Barbara Walsh did at the Press Herald, I'll tell you that. Not to mention the jam that crescendos with a guitar solo from Doctor Astronaut.
"I just think somebody oughta state the facts," Spose raps, as part of his typical humility. I want to hear more of them. Part of this album is a psychological necessity for Spose to move past that what-could-have-been feeling the "I'm Awesome" phenomenon had to have engendered. Part of this album is a giant middle finger (reversed middle finger, actually, is how the P-Dank folks roll). The rest of it is the future. And that's the best part.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE AUDACITY! | Released by Spose | with Sly Chi + Cam Groves + Educated Advocates + Spencer Albee + Lady Essence + Shane Reis + Rapper Ashley | at the Empire, in Portland | April 20, at 5 pm (all ages) and 9 pm (21+) | pdank.com