Do you spend your Fridays being escorted around town by chauffeurs to vacant mansions with bathtubs brimming with champagne? My guess is probably not. Tuning in to mainstream pop radio can feel like overhearing a conversation you’ve been priced out of. I can’t speak for everyone but my intuition is that most of us don’t know what it’s like to take a bite out of a sandwich of dollar bills, but probably have some inkling of what it’s like to have a couple quarters (or “0.01$”) in your jean pocket after a night out on the town. In his honest debut Id, Chris Laufman, the mind behind the joyous noise-pop project Wise Blood, nobly outlines the neurotic impulses of those of us who don’t have a seat at Miley Cyrus’s lunch table.
The hedonistic whims that Wise Blood explores on Id’s 12 tracks are those that can be experienced with chump change. If you’ve ever eaten a whole bag of Doritos for dinner or, instead of finishing your paper, binged on YouTube videos all night, you have a pretty solid idea of the structure of Wise Blood’s debut Id. The record chronicles the spiraling decline that comes from coddling one’s self-indulgence. Id commences with whistles and applause from a distant peanut gallery, but Laufman doesn’t hide that his forthcoming joy-spree is instigated by feelings of entrapment and anxiety as most procrastinistic, rash and voracious impulses are. In “Alarm” a buoyant flute mixed with an ominous horn sets the stage for Laufman’s assertions. “I need my personal space,” he sings.
His motivations are often primal and at odds with the world around him. As he puts it at one point, “I need to get out of this place.” “This place” that he introduces us to in the beginning of Id is most likely his own head where all of his anxieties and feelings of entrapment are formed. The album’s first half portrays the narrator’s greatest character flaw: his introversion. “Routine Reality” is a teetering pop soundtrack for an obsessive compulsive attempting to put order into their life through fitness. “When I’m working on my body I’m the one in control,” he sings. That control doesn’t solve everything.
The easy-going, clap-happy ode to a certain retail giant, “Target,” ends with a dark, murky sample of a man’s voice intoning, “Wondering the streets of the city half-clothed.” It’s the moment right before the protagonist plummets into a night of escape. Up until this point on the album Laufman has been feeding us the anxious fodder in the mind of the album’s only prominent character. The songs “8 P.M. – 10 P.M” and “11 P.M. – 1 A.M” are instrumental pieces comprised of Laufman’s sound samples. It’s a nice respite. The tracks are discombobulated pieces that evoke mayhem and chaos through percussion-heavy samples that mix the rhythms of hip-hop with the textures of ambient music. The music has a woozy, destabilizing tonality to it that’s furthered explored on tracks like “Universe Is Blessed” where Laufman intones, “I’m going to drink until I’m dumb.” He’s not bragging or asking for your sympathy—he’s just stating the facts.
A beer in one hand and a bummed cig in another is enough to please the character that Wise Blood presents on Id. “I want to sign a big contract and take over pop music,” Laufman recently told Pitchfork. “That’s a plan of mine that I hope comes together in the next year. I basically want to become the best as soon as possible, so we’ll see if that works out.” It just might. If Wise Blood continues to be the type of honest artist that’s not afraid to admit, “Shoot I can’t find my keys/Can’t find my car either as a matter of fact,” then there’s no telling where he might end up—or how he’ll end up there. One thing is for sure: He won’t be taking a limo.