Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
You don't have to listen for too long at all and Thomas Function has already got you throwing your hair around, knocking over the lamps and end tables, gasping for bygone air and feeling as if you've been greeted by some lucky party, and you're one lucky prick. The group from Alabama seems just like a scruffy rock and roll band that could have inspired any number of teeny-bopper dance crazes back in the golden era of the 60s as well as now - during this solemn era of non-participation. And that's really what it is - these swimming and buoyant songs of ear-bursting melody, these jangly guitar, smiley, old organ flourishes, sharp and faithful drumming and a perfectly athletic bass foundation. Thomas Function would have been phenoms that all of America could have been listening to as they drove boat-sized automobiles heading toward the soda fountain for root beer floats and pull taffy, after class on school days, meeting there to talk about the latest episode of "The Twilight Zone" or "The Ed Sullivan Show," whichever was broadcast the night before. They would have been a band that had all of the young ladies losing their pieces, setting their brains into ecstatic mushiness machines that couldn't be cooled for anything. They are this band, no matter how long ago these practices ceased, where pop music and its most basic properties incited riots and caused people to just lose their marbles because denying the feeling of movement and communal enjoyment of sounds when it was actually there and knocking just was not an option. They make it very hard to be a corpse at one of their live performances and the too cool for their own pants hipsters can just forget about coming out and just standing there with one overpriced, hard liquored drink after another. This is the very kind of rock and roll that gets all of the freakiness out of you, that has the ability to make you leave your worries behind, even if the songs themselves are about lead singer Joshua Macero's specific concerns, the ugly parts of his existence and all of the crapped on segments of it all. He notes in the descriptions that he provided for the four songs that his band taped this summer that he's tried for the longest time to "put the ugliest, most painful aspects of my life into a bubblegum wrapper," and really, what's the harm in that? Turning those lemons into something capable of being mixed with spoonfuls of sugar and imbibed is a swell thing. There's not all that much rottenness lurching in the walls of Thomas Function songs though. They might come initially from some gnarly nests and birthplaces, but they carry with them no more ire or bruises than do the songs of the Strokes or The Walkmen, just a little bit of that sunken-eyed, oily-browed, shucks-darn, down-in-the-luck observation that's coming more from a mentality such as one that would think, "Well, the lottery didn't pick my numbers again last weekend so I guess it's back to the old job Monday morning." There are the normal stresses and pains of being a man. There is the fickleness of band life and how those in the world could care less most of the time. There is Macero singing about how he's not even really "asking for much," and that alone is the depressing part of the song and dance that this band does so well and in doing so, takes us down to Pallisade's Park and around a bit of a boardwalk for a sunny afternoon.
Thomas Function Official Site
Fat Possum Records