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As a society, we know that we are overwhelmed – consumed by hyper-stimulation, and frustrated by what often feels like an exhaustive barrage of external forces. For Paul de Jong – the innovative composer and cofounder of beloved collage-pop eccentrics, the Books – that societal frustration was compounded by a series of unexpected and frightening personal turns. His new album, You Fucken Sucker, is an uncompromising and overwhelming statement; an uncanny (and sometimes uncomfortable) reflection of our collective mental excess.
Presented in the exact sequence in which it was conceived, You Fucken Sucker charts a route of personal tragedy and emotional fatigue, and the loss and eventual retrieval of the illusion of control. Over the course of its 14 tracks – which range in length from 15 seconds to nearly 10 minutes – we hear complex tapestries of acoustic and electronic instrumentation submitting to waves of unhinged screaming; found-sound assemblage seamlessly incorporating subtle R&B rhythms; Freudian funk; lo-fi prog-metal; and vast synth patch orchestration adding unexpected textures and tension to the whole spectacular mess.
Like much of Paul de Jong’s work, You Fucken Sucker is a genre unto itself, overflowing with innovative exploration of sounds and senses. Unlike his previous work, it is an unvarnished exposition of his anger, frustration, misery and confusion. Perhaps most vitally, it is an opportunity for the rest of us to experience the kind of communal emotional purge more typical of pre-Internet basement punk rock shows, to bask in the rarified air of being unafraid of being afraid.