It is often said that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I think basing your expectations of Crazy Clown Time upon its artwork – a bleeding black and white hand covered with writing holding a die – would be about right. The bottom line is that this is a weird album, and I mean the kind of weird that would make the Elephant Man confused.
Things start off nicely (normally) with ‘Good Day Today’, my personal highlight of the album, which some would almost call catchy with its repetitive, simple chorus and interesting use of gun sound effects to juxtapose against the soft backing synths. Things continue in the same manner with the Karen O-featured ‘Pinky’s Dream’, a fantastic brooding track with tense backing music complementing the free-flowing vocals. Whatever Pinky is dreaming about certainly can’t be considered dull.
The album thereafter is very different in tone. The album’s namesake ‘Crazy Clown Time’ is a good example. Lynch’s unique vocals resonate eerily, like Thom Yorke on a particularly paranoid day; but ‘Paranoid Android’ this is not. The nightmarish lyrics – such as “Diddy and his hair, I’m fire! Oh, oh, oh” – and the accompanying female sexual noises create a genuinely unsettling vibe as the music twists and turns underneath the sleazy collage of vocals.
Clocking in at seven minutes and 29 seconds and placed directly in the middle of the record, I feel that ‘Strange and Unproductive Thinking’ perfectly sums up what this album is all about. Coming off like a ‘Fitter Happier’ from Radiohead’s Ok Computer on steroids, an autotuned Lynch lectures the listener about something or other as repetitive music drags along in the background. It’s a strenuous experience that I would compare to being shut in a hole and yelled at constantly on something you have no idea about until you’re worn thin, but in space. Like all the songs on this album it’s not particularly listenable, but it’s also not necessarily bad; it evokes emotion but you won’t be whistling this one down the street, and it definitely won’t be sitting beside JLS and One Direction at the top of the charts.
David Lynch is a surrealist. When one watches Inland Empire they are not rewarded with a straightforward narrative plot; they are tested and put through an ambiguous construct of abstract visual aides to which they put their own meaning, and for this reason I cannot bring myself to simply dismiss the songs on the album as ‘weird’ or ‘boring’. They certainly provide an experience, just not the same one that your average Coldplay album would provide. They provide a much more haunting experience that could mean different things to different people; never before have I as much considered music as art. I don’t know if Crazy Clown Time is something I would ever listen to again; it’s more of an experience than an album of individual songs.
I can’t give the album a high score because it wasn’t what I would consider worthy of ‘classic album’ status, as I will not be returning to it; but it’s clear that Lynch’s intention was not to make an album of singalong songs, and as such I cannot give the album a poor mark. In summary, this album will split audiences. Either you’ll love it, hate it, or just be confused by it.
Good: Eerie and unsettling.
Bad: Eerie and unsettling.