Monsters of anti-folk 

The Bundles
The Bundles
(K Records)

It isn't until halfway through the Bundles' self-titled debut that Kimya Dawson — the highest-profile member of this folk supergroup — stares down the elephant in the romper room. Against the bobbing acoustic hue and dither of "Over the Moon," the quintet's vocalists trade non sequiturs that fall somewhere between inanity and profundity.

Then Dawson, in her petulant woman-girl-in-the-schoolyard sing-song, busts out the indie-rock equivalent of Dr. Dre's "Forgot About Dre" rant: "I'm not going anywhere, I'm perfectly content right here/Settled in in my own skin, breathing in this atmosphere/And maybe you have expectations of what my next step should be, as if my success depends on leaving this reality."

Ultimately, she insists later, "I just wanna sing with my friends." And that, thank heaven, is exactly what The Bundles amounts to: Dawson, brothers Jeffrey and Jack Lewis, drummer Anders Griffen and avuncular K Records figure Karl Blau forming like Voltron to make gently raucous noise together. You could think of them as the Monsters of anti-folk — as in the noisome genre Dawson helped define a decade back as a member of the Moldy Peaches — if this group's goal was to flail around haplessly, flinging gross-outs and expletives everywhere.

They're not above intramural silliness, but this disc exudes a mature coherence and confidence; the players staunch their loosey-goosey microphone passing with solid chops. "A Common Chorus" emerges from stark prairie organs, giving way to shuddering, stuttering guitar shag. "Pirates Declare War" kicks the pace into garage-punk gear, pushing the-apocalypse-is-now absurdism as infectious as it is bratty (sample rallying cry: "Everybody's burning their fortunes and trash/Rise like a Kleenex from the ash!"), while "Shamrock Glamrock" and "Metal Mouth" come off like the Fall at their least sane and the B-52s at their most subdued, respectively. This particular reality is way more lively than the Juno soundtrack — or Dawson's last two solo albums.

More by Raymond Cummings


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