Sam Coomes - Bugger Me
After 23 years, Sam Coomes, beloved to fans of indie misfits Quasi, has finally put out a solo album, the instructively whimsically titled Bugger Me. Coomes, a producer of note for riff rockers Built to Spill, compares his release to The Beach Boys’ less complicated works. Sure, its minimalist DIY production has the confidence not to show off, but it’s Brian Wilson’s Mr. Hyde persona with Aphex Twin’s devilishly sneering distorted electronica. Leisured vocals serving as a balm for wonky chiptune openings ask “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older?” Let’s hope we make it that far.
A production style and sense of fun references The Flaming Lips, who’ve covered Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, but Coomes has – teasingly intangibly linked – multi-level magnum opuses of his own. The title track recalls Norman Greenbaum’s ‘Spirit In The Sky’: “Who are you? / Who am I? / Who are you gonna be when you die?” before collapsing into distortion to inform ‘Corpse Rider’, which stories the comic-book character Ghost Rider with his flame extinguished. ‘Shined It On Lobotomy Eggs’ homages a 1980s pared back John Carpenter melody, another man who can tell a good story by manipulating the extremes of our emotions with little fuss. ‘The Tucchus’s howling AM radio voices break the fourth wall addressing the audience, but no matter how carefully we turn the dial we can’t make them out: a helpful warning, or return of the diabolical grin.
One can only imagine the pent up energy from a 50-plus year old man’s first solo work. Sam Coomes’ outwardly intellectually confident, endearingly apologetic, album of surface meaning versus subtext is a statement of intent, answering indulgent over-production with a catchy honest aesthetic. Being older’s pretty good as predicted, thanks for making it Sam.