In some circles, Diest (Belgium) based multi-intumentalist, Jens Rubens is better known for the being part of the spit and scowl of high octane Belgian punk acts such as Coma Commander, Ero Guro, Prince Beastly.
However, for fans of jangly lo-fi rock, Rubens’ previous two EP’s (Uhm Yeah Sure and Nothing At All) showed his potential within a genre he plainly uses to express the more desperate side of his introspection and that has become manifest in this Camp Careful, debut album.
If their is an aural equivalent of the ‘blink and you might miss it’ then I do not know it. This most certainly has that feel to it though, as Rubens seems intent to softly couch some obvious despair in both the beauty of jangle and a sense of humour that would be considered snide, if he did not reveal so much of himself as a sub-context.
As such we see the absolutely stunning chiming jangle / slacker pop juxtaposition of Alphabet Soup, Careful There Annie Oakley, Just Paint Over It and To The Lab, twist, dance and cavort within lyrics that resonate and almost giggle at the absolute futility of life, as he is opines everything that just feels so inneffectual to him.
The absolute pointlessness of work, the support of causes, the wait for life to change or gain purpose and the pretentiousness of arousing any sense of effort, are all shrouded in a laconic pretty so unbecoming of the subject matter.
However, there are times when he just cannot hide the discontent musically and his battle with his obvious anxiety demons gains unfettered credence. Might As Well dislocates a cod jangled riff from the general aesthetic and adds a vocal drone that offers no apology regarding his need to avoid a people and a life that has as much meaning to him as the rubbish he is letting pile up in his room. It is a track that was an interesting choice as opener, especially as it is preceded by three faster tempo tracks that offer faux energy.
However, the retrospective realization after listening to the entire album is of Rubens letting the listener know as early as possible that there is an overwhelming sense of disparation, despair and desolation that will underline the entire album. This is also something that is summated to maximum effect in Because I’m Alienated which starts off with the line ‘If it’s all so fucking futile, Then why am I upset all the time’ and never bothers to expand upon the concept. It’s just ‘just that’ in every possible way.
Superficially people will merely extol the virtues of how easily this Stoop Kid project manages to find an accentuated, Walter Etc type beauty in the most sparse of lo-fi surroundings. Dig deeper though and this is a masterpiece for those who may care to ruminate on the meaning of a troubled mind.
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