Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hail to the Busdriver

(but only if you dig his crazy route)

Score: 5

Busdriver must love 7-Eleven's Fusion Energy coffee. You know: the kind with enough stimulants to make drug-sniffing dogs start foaming at the mouth.

His frenzied delivery forces reams of eccentric lyrics into nearly every song on RoadkillOvercoat, and his head-scratching style-morphing takes him all over the map. He goes from Hawkman ragga ribbit to Weird Al falsetto to the falling-all-over-himself flow of Del tha Funkee Homosapien --- sometimes switching it up in the middle of a verse ("Secret Skin"). On the streamlined hook of "Less Yes's, More No's," he even manages to evoke Trent Reznor.

'Course, if you don't have the liner notes handy, good luck deciphering half of what he's saying. He probably could blow by OutKast in a 50-rhyme dash. He cribs from the Atlanta duo's "B.O.B." on "Ethereal Driftwood," but he's no OutKast.

And let's be real: He could use some slow-and-steady on this album. The lines the average listener can pick up are the ones that stick. Those tend to be the choruses.

For the verses, Busdriver carps his way through injustices political and social, from reps who "want someone lowbrow, a philistine with iron-on irony" ("Casting Agents and Cowgirls") to everybody who "voted in a defrosted Cro-Magnon man" ("The Troglodyte Wins").

Though he declares himself to be left-wing, Busdriver's an equal-opportunity hater. Hippies are the target in "Kill Your Employer (Recreational Paranoia Is the Sport of Now)." Part grime and part primal, the track lambastes veggie-dog-eating peace marchers: "Let me guess, you're a macrobiotic cuisine prep-cook / With a textbook liberal outlook in an oppressed nook / Couch surfing, but your dad's got employment history at Halliburton / While you dress like wild mermen."

When Busdriver settles down, as on "Go Slow" (how apropos), the ride's considerably smoother. Contributing some much-needed balance in the vocal department, Bianca Casady of CocoRosie waves her freak folk wand and chants an incantation --- probably to control time, judging from the sedated beats per minute.

While it's at times puerile and overindulgent, RoadkillOvercoat refuses to be pinned down stylistically, much like its creator refuses to be put down by the Man. Just don't blast "Kill Your Employer" from your corporate cube, because your boss isn't likely to catch that it's about smelly peaceniks. But he'll understand the chorus.

So much for "Take this job and shove it."

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