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David Shrigley’s Worried Noodles

Released by Tomlab, 10/23/07

The first question that comes to mind when you open this CD is “Who the heck is David Shrigley?” The second is “How did he get so many famous friends?” Folks like Deerhoof, David Byrne, Franz Ferdinand, R. Stevie Moore, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and dozens of other musicians and bands contribute music for the lyrics that Shrigley has written.

Shrigley is an artist based in Glasgow, who works with animation, cartoons, comic books, doodles on postcards, poetry, prose, photographs, CD cover art, T-shirts, signage, music videos (Blur’s “Good Song”) and, of course, song lyrics. The original Worried Noodles was issued by Tomlab in 2005; it was a collection of lyrics with a blank paper LP because, Shrigly says, “I couldn’t be bothered to make a record.” Critics loved and/or hated Shrigley’s disturbing drawings, praising or savaging the book’s violence, quirkiness and the childlike simplicity of the verses. But it’s Shrigley’s lyrical simplicity and opaque poetic approach that makes the results uniformly interesting.

Highlights include: David Byrne singing “For You” behind a simple stomping rhythm. It’s a simple list of disjointed images that makes its own sweet peculiar sense in the manner of an old Talking Heads song. “The Pretty Girl” by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone is a short bizarre story about killing a girl’s family, then killing her. Hard to know what to make of its smug, deadpan statement of senseless violence.

The Liars industrial/techno throb on “Panic Button” sounds like early European hard core, its rhythm and noise complimented by the repeated lyric -- “If I were hungry enough I’d eat a rat.” Fellow artist John Shankie sings “A Song” a cappella; it’s another incoherent list of persons, places and things, including junkies, skulls, worms, alcoholics and bats, but it hangs together like a cruel children’s song.

R. Stevie Moore’s “Live in Fear” is a mini-horror movie that sounds both innocent and ominous, as he intones, “You don’t have to be afraid of me because when you’re at your most vulnerable, because I won’t be there,” over a jaunty tack piano track. Islands turn “Joy” into Kinks-like rave up as they sing the praises of running around with your pants down and a bag over your head. “A Sentimental Song” is given a moody, ambient soundtrack by Mt. Eerie. It’s another catalogue of disturbing images that leaves on feeling faintly queasy.

Cotton Candy marries the same lyric to a Joy Division/New Order dance track. Even though 39 different bands offer their takes on the lyrics, the results do sound like an album. Shrigley’s visions, full of dark humor and incomprehensible juxtapositions are never less than interesting and quickly draw you into his bleakly amusing world.

Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars