Lawn Mower – Autistic – Album Review
“This is a band that has the sole intention to have fun. I don’t care about anything else but that, I work full time as a loan officer and I don’t see myself quitting my job. I work 60 hrs a week and come home and play music for probably another 4 hours every night like a complete psychopath.” #Respect!
What a kickass neighbor Patric Moonie of Lawn Mower must be. More than half the time he’s either gone at work, or forced to sleep, and for the other four hours you get a badass dose of Alt/Indie Rock drifting through your window…that’s a much better deal than you’d find in most places out there.
The slick & sly groove that “Autistic” starts pumping out should immediately catch your attention in that same clever & catchy way that the hazy vibes & melodies of a band like The Dandy Warhols work their magic on ya. I dig the rhythm guitar just as much as the lead, I dig the attitude, and I dig the lethargic way Lawn Mower approaches the main hooks in an anti-chorus type-way. You start digging in deep, and you’ll find this band has serious moves & chops on display from the production to their performances – listen to the way they finish this track off…you’ll notice the instrumentation gets revealed more & more as “Autistic” plays on, and by the time it’s over, quite honestly, you should be more than convinced. They may sound a lil’ lazy, faded, dazed, and sloppy in that College-Rock style – but make no mistake, all that’s 100% intentional at the point of pushing record…Lawn Mower has no problem nailing the vibe they’re looking to create. These objects in our mirror are closer than they appear if you feel me – I think by the end of “Autistic” you’d have to come to the conclusion they certainly know their way around their instruments and how to execute on the Lawn Mower sound. This crew, which consists of Patric along with his homies Jon Summers & Chad O’Connor, and features Claire Moonie, Pat’s sister, as well when you hear the piano show up – they’ve got something pretty addictive goin’ on here I tells ya. I don’t expect each & every one of you to relate in that regard…Lawn Mower belongs out there in the freak scene just as much as bands like Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, or even Beck did back in their prime time.
“Pill” just ain’t nearly as much as my jam – how’s that for objectivity for ya? Y’all know me…I’ve got no problem tellin’ ya where things are fantastic, crappy, or otherwise…I ain’t hating on “Pill” – I’ve just never been a huge fan of the back-n-forth dealio. That being said, that lethargic approach to the vocal sound pays off here in that respect, because it does kind of carry that exhausted feeling with the sound that’s been explored from The Kinks on forward. For me, my money was on the final twenty seconds of this cut where “Pill” went on to break itself open into weird little fragments of sonic awesomeness…it’s a miniscule piece of what’s a relatively short song to begin with being under two-minutes in length – but it was worth the price of admission in my opinion. The rest I don’t mind…like I said, don’t get me wrong, I ain’t really hatin’ here while it’s new…I do suspect this track might have a harder time holding up in the future to follow compared to the rest though. I like that Patric shows a bit more spark & edge in his vocals along the way here…he doesn’t quite end up in a shout, but he’s not just in the hazy gear on “Pill” – he puts in moments of significant energy as well. Lawn Mower still plays this cut as committed as they do any of the rest, it just wasn’t as much for me personally as the rest was is all – maybe it’s for you! I ain’t here to pee in your cornflakes if this is your favorite – we all like what we like, that’s the way it is.
The sliding guitar on “Uncle Sam” is absolutely killer. All-in-all, you gotta dig how this band designs their music if you ask me…there’s such tangible grooves goin’ on that are every bit as bizarre, punked-out, and equally catchy that it’s impossible to ignore, no matter how much Lawn Mower tries to mask itself in that hazy vibe that shrouds them. I’m realistic about the vocal tones…Patric’s a tough match for some of these songs and that’s just kinda how it rolls – that doesn’t whatsoever imply that he doesn’t supply something else that’s just as valuable, which is character & personality – the intangible X-factors that will continually surprise you in all kinds of different ways. Often singers like that become polarizing to the listeners out there – some will love what Patric does, others will want a bit more of a melodic tone at times and a bit more of a natural ambience in the recording of his vocals…no judgments here folks – I’m obviously in favor of both. How many times would singers from Les Claypool to Michael Stipe or Mark Arm have had to endure a bunch of BS like that? Go on & do your thing Patric. Ultimately I feel like he suits the vibe of Lawn Mower…I mean, this is kind of a whole deal centered around him from what I understand…he’s the dude that brought’em all together, so I suppose it makes sense that it would…to me, I just felt like tracks like “Uncle Sam” could use a bit more bleed of the background into the vocals to not make’em seem so separated from the rest is all. Other than that, I’ve got no substantial complaints – and the immaculate crunch they pack into the radiant vibes of the music are more than compensation – the music of “Uncle Sam” will go on to steal the show AND seal the deal for any doubters left out there – these dudes can PLAY, make no mistake. The transition around the 2:45 mark is one of the most explosive, psychedelically colorful, and all-around gnarly moments I’ve heard in music this year without a doubt – that’s just a glorious switch in the whole direction right there is what that is. More or less, Lawn Mower takes what was a good stomp & storm through the hooks of the first half, and shifts the entire song into greatness through the radiant surge of wild instrumentation in the second half. A split personality cut that has fun with both halves, as do we in the process – “Uncle Sam,” like so many of Lawn Mower’s tunes, just sound like serious FUN to play. I get it Lawn Mover…I hear ya.
“Take this cup of water…oopsie, that was pee.” You see? Good times. I’m gonna be real with you here, and go out on a limb & just say I’m starting to get a sneaking suspicion that lyrics aren’t always the main focus in Lawn Mower. I just have the feeling. I’m not saying they don’t care…just not as much of a priority, you feel me? Look…it’s tracks like “Yellow” that highlight the fact that this band isn’t here to take anything too damn seriously – as the quote I pulled from Patric at the beginning of this review points out, they’re here to have fun, full-stop. I feel pretty close to about the same towards this cut as I did with “Pill” earlier on and for mostly the same reasons…I’d probably give “Yellow” the edge in comparing the two directly, if only for the extra mayhem the lyricism provides this track. I’ll say this – I have no clue whatsoever is creating the sound in the background…it could be a guitar, it could totally be something else…I don’t know what it is, but I love what I hear in that. Lawn Mower will know what I mean and that’s really all that matters – it provides the main musical hook in this song, and you couldn’t possibly miss it…once again, they prove they’ve got something worth checking out in every cut they’ve got on this record. I’m getting the sense that to know & understand Lawn Mower is to know that nothing is off limits to them…no idea too weird, no concept too strange, no sound too bizarre. Call me crazy, but there’s a vibe in Lawn Mower that connects to me at my core like they’re my spirit animal.
With what’s easily one of the most DEADLY beginnings to a song that you’ll hear this year – “Heal You” comes out ready to slide its way to victory on the back of the bass-lines as it starts gettin’ all kinds of serious past the guitar intro. From there, it gets GRIMY in all the right ways…and no joke, when the guitars came back in, with the production lending an assist from the lefts to the rights – I literally shouted out “OH YEAHHHHHHH!” as it hit. Yep. Out loud, right here, unapologetically, loud enough for the neighbors to probably hear me, while in the studio, alone by myself. The sonic texture in that moment is invaluable – and all around, this is one hell of a track. In my not-so-humble opinion, I don’t think there’s even an argument to be made against the fact that, pound for pound, second for second, “Heal You” packs in the most punch of any track on this record. The haunting mix of intense psychedelic sound at work on this one cut will make ya feel as snug as a straightjacket as the walls start closing in around you as you listen…the execution of this cut is outstanding when it comes right down to it. Lawn Mower really seems to snap to full attention here…as a result, it feels like every ticking moment of “Heal You” comes with menacing weight & forceful tones dripping with badassery and sheer sonic mischief. I think there’s some really stellar cuts on this record, especially for my own strange tastes – but to me, when you combine this idea with its award-worthy production, it’s bar-none the best cut on this album, 100%.
Almost trying to break their way into some sort of psychedelic Alt-Jazz with “She Don’t Care,” Lawn Mower plays in a deconstructed style that seems to almost chop itself up beyond repair…but slowly & surely, piece by piece, you’ll hear that they’ve got everything right where they want it to be, strange as that will most certainly seem. It’s definitely on the exploratory and experimental side of sound to begin with – and like I always tell ya about that poor tune that has to come after what’s arguably a record’s best song…I mean, it’s tougher to get into the vibe of a song like “She Don’t Care” unless you really do listen to music for other purposes than to sing along with it on your way to the 9-5. They have no issues with pursuing their wildest ideas though…and I think that’s more than commendable. At the end of the day, I am an audiophile, I like many things – I’m not gonna claim I love all of “She Don’t Care” – but I’d definitely be lying if I didn’t say it had seriously impressive moments to be found in listening to it. Like I’ve been tellin’ ya – there’s always at the very least, a nugget or more of something spectacular or odd that stands out to us in a sensory way…there’s a connection between Lawn Mower and their music that has us feeling it too, at least at points. Those peaks & valleys in a song or a record are natural points of evolution and a band like this stretching its creative muscles to see what its capable of now, and the potential for where it can go in the future to follow. Ain’t nothing wrong with experimentation or even just jamming it out – that’s what leads to new unique breakthroughs in music, of course – just be ready for what comes next when these kind of cuts end up on a record though, people always have something to say and anything outside of the norm is bound to rile’em up. Lawn Mower thrives outside the norm.
They have clearly demonstrated throughout the course of this record that they sure as hell ain’t afraid to get weird with it, you dig? “She Says” ends Autistic with an eight-minute conglomerate of sound, from delicate moments of spacious serenity, to all-out supercharged rambunctiousness with the band thrashing out in every direction. Like I’ve been saying though, if you grew up in the Grunge era like I did, and you found those Alt-Indie wonders like Pavement & Superchunk etc. on the fringe of it all, then like…I mean, c’mon – the slide into the groove around the 1:40 mark should be just about everything ya wanna hear! Do I expect everyone out there to be able to hang with Lawn Mower? No! Of course not. And that’d be a weird expectation to have of anyone’s music, so don’t have that. Listen to moments like around the four-minute mark though, where the low-end comes in to strengthen the vibe…listen to the subtle crunch of the guitars laced into the background in support shortly afterwards…good LORD almighty, the ideas, textures, and tones being put in both through the performance and production as straight-up sonic masterpieces as far as my ears are concerned – I love this kinda stuff, 100%. As hypnotic as it is mesmerizing, a song like “She Says” spirals out into a full-on jam…and every single inch of this cut keeps on innovating within itself as it plays on forward…this is what captivating sound is really all about. It might be more built for audiophiles like myself as opposed to the everyday listener out there, and I get that as much as I’m sure Lawn Mower does themselves…but man…I tell ya…if you can’t dig on this kind of epically weird, wild, and wonderful sound at work, I’m just not so sure we can ever really be friends. It’s almost like the alternative/indie answer to a song like “Walk On The Wild Side” in the first half of its length, all filtered through the inherent bizarre tendencies of Lawn Mower’s perspective & sound of course…hence, yes, things get strange – but you’ll likely notice the degree of accessibility actually climbs up a significant notch here, and you get more melody from Patric’s vocals than you’ll find in most of the lineup as well. The second half slips into one of the most badass grooves I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year…I could loop this all bloody week and I’d never get tired of it, guarantee ya that. The textures & tones they play with are extraordinary…Lawn Mower has seriously tangible identity in their sound…don’t underestimate this band, you might just end up way more addicted to’em than you’d ever expect on that first spin…trust a guy that’s already been there. The more I played Autistic, the more I found there was to freakin’ love about it…it’s bizarre, it’s got glorious instrumentation and some of the wildest ideas you’ll hear in 2021 – and it’s all the fun they promised.
Listen to Lawn Mower at Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/06ie0mTPeSh66yJ3WW69aw