By Margaret Welsh
Pittsburgh Current Music Writer
Fuck You Pay Me
On what is perhaps my favorite local release of the year so far — and certainly a favorite of the last several months — Invader Lars comes out swinging, proclaiming within seconds, “I don’t need you, I don’t trust shit,” from there constructing a series of shadowy, winding sonic structures. It’s kaleidoscopic, but as much as Fuck You Pay Me sparkles, the tones are highly saturated. It’s not a bad trip, but it’s not a particularly flowery psychedelic experience, either.
Lars spits righteous rage at cops, at white people who drop the n-word, at the passive black squares posted on Instagram, at all manner of haters and fakers. “You should be afraid, understand I’m afraid of me,” he warns on the feverish “Mr. Majestic.” “Dark voice comes to my ear when I’m contemplating/Why y’all live in a nation that could care less about me?/ I hate society, kiss my ass or start dying/Y’all said ‘Black Lives Matter,’ y’all practice lyin’.’”
On “Burn,” his punchy, slightly sea-sick flow bumps up against the edges of a dense collage of elegant vintage samples, and in places he melds with them, ultimately fuzzing into chaos. “Casino” takes a quick victory lap, creating a satisfying tension between lurching, soupy rhymes and triumphant beats.
There’s a winningly DIY aesthetic to the record (the cover art appears to have been made in MS paint) which fits it’s brand of raw power. A one point Lars considers that maybe he’s a nihilist. Could be — Lars’ words clearly emerge directly from his gut and he’s nothing if not emotionally credible — so I have no reason to disbelieve him. But there’s no chintzy half-baked philosophy here, no half measures. To paraphrase Lars, this record is a Rolls-Royce, bitch, not a Schwinn.
The sunny day at the end
Ole Flannel is a lo-fi, one-person project. The sunny day at the end is home-recorded music meant to sound pleasantly worn. It’s also a loose concept album, following one particular character through their day-to-day, and chronicling a “theoretical (but not all that hard to imagine) end to life as we know it.” The apocalyptic vibes are undeniable — one can imagine the protagonist driving on deserted highways, past bombed-out shopping malls and through scorched fields. But it’s all pretty, you know, chill: As seems plenty clear now, living at the end of the world can feel quite mundane.
This is a spacious collection of meandering, organic-feeling indie-folk-pop. It buzzes in and out of clarity — at its more solidified moments, like opener “Courts,” Ole Flannel talk-sings in a loopy, seesaw pattern, describing various unsavory characters. Other tracks sound a great deal like early Kurt Vile: loose guitar noodling, slacker vocals.
The centerpiece of the record is, however, “Driving across PA letting stations bleed together as the world crumbles,” a 20-plus minute sound collage inspired by a drive from Pittsburgh to Philly “without a working CD player or aux cord.” Made from a mix of original sounds and samples, the track moves from radio station to radio station, sound to sound, music style to music style, creating a dreamy and strange approximation of that long cross-state slog.