Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
What seems to spring forth out of O Giant Man lead singer Chris Robbins, is these impulsive bursts of whatever may be. It's as if at one moment, all is floating by without much concern and then suddenly he'll throw a fit where there's some kicking and some screaming and there's something of a dust-up that isn't anything serious, but it's something all the same. It's as if he's taken on the mood of a wild horse that wasn't paying attention for the longest time, was drugged or was asleep and suddenly comes to with a start, recognizing that the weight rubbing and burning against its back is actually a saddle and he's no longer as free as he used to be. We can only imagine what awakening to find oneself yoked, broken in and domesticated in many ways would feel like. The Kansas City, Missouri, band that Robbins fronts is a group that makes music that feels as if it's being made from the point of view of those who have been disenchanted some, but still retain some of those original illusions and that's the reason for the changed spirit, or for the tantrums.
We're given songs that feature Robbins in a sweet, drifting nasally pitch that seem to convey the potential for a tempest, for those rash and sudden bolts of outburst and shortly into them, they do just that. They are flared out with smashing tears of indignation and astonishment that life can be so deceitful and unarming, that it can take us away with it without letting us get to the bottom of it, to really answer any of the many whys we have about everything. So many of Robbins' thoughts turn to into passionate toasts to the parts inside of the songs' characters that are putting up a fight. These are the parts that have dug their trenches, pinned their heels into the dirt and decided that they're going to meet these alterations and these affronts head-to-head and man-to-man. These happen to be the big things like the spirit of a man, like the toppling nature of long-held dreams that are suddenly seen to be dying by the hands of time and of unplanned interruptions.
A song like, "Animal," for instance, comes at us with a harsh admonition that, "They should know, that I'm just an animal/Like a child/Oh, they should know/Oh, they should know." It's a line that's meant to give off a warning about the reasons why certain things may or may not happen. The dissolution of dreams comes on "Decisions," a song that has Robbins' singing, "Dreams/Under the fire/Under the mountains/Under the bridge/we've got decisions/We've got decisions/We hate them," before ending with some loud, cracking HAs that sound like karate chops. We sense that there's a strong wish to remain in Neverland for a while longer, as if having to deal with the stresses of anything are burdens that are just too much sometimes.
*Essay originally published June, 2011