Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: Nerf Herder - Rockingham

I must confess I'm not a huge fan of the whole nerd culture thing. It's all too self-consciously precious and, at its worst, narcissistic to appeal to me despite my admitted affinities for Monty Python, complex board games and MST3K. As a result an album dedicated to this particular pseudo sub-culture isn't exactly in my wheelhouse. That being said, I've enjoyed Parry Gripp's amusing songs on YouTube, and I simply adore Linus Dotson (not that there is anything wrong with that,) so when the chance came to pre-order this album I thought "oh, what the hell."

I'm glad I did. Rockingham is not going to cause anyone to shun their copy of Revolver or even the first Fountains of Wayne record, but there are far worse ways to spend an hour. "Portland" kicks off with a rant against everything that, frankly, needed to ranted about when it comes to rainy Pacific Northwest cities obsessed with their own shit. Sure, it is a bit of an easy target, but no one can claim they don't deserve it. "At the Con" and "Allie Goertz" win with wit and obvious charm.

The high point of the album comes with the terrific "We Opened for Weezer" a fond reminiscence of 1990's days gone by that rises above being an exercise in simple name dropping. They might not have meant to do it but they struck genuine poignancy. However, the album will not allow us to grow melancholic. Before you can blink the high octane power pop of "Jackie Got Married" is ready to whisk you away and that is a very good thing.

The second half of the album loses a little steam. "I'm the Droid (You're Looking For)" never really lives up to its title. "Ghostbusters III" and "Doctor Who" are energetic but a little one note. Luckily, the truly funny and catchy "Stock Photo Girl" comes along to entertain, while the album ender "Close Your Eyes and Dream" comes across like an inside joke we've all been invited to join. It's a bit of a microcosm of the whole album in that it asks "Why don't you come along? This will be fun!" They're not wrong.

Grade: B+

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