For an album that contains songs that are mostly about pizza, beer, and dysfunctional relationships, Karen Meat’s latest offering, Karen Meat & The Computer, is utterly and unrelentingly adorable. In the span of just five tracks, from three different songwriters, they manage to articulate a unified theme and a fresh, challenging take on the world that is vexingly rooted in both the kitschy and the macabre. Somehow it is both cute and gritty, exhibiting pop sensibilities in equal measure to it’s hooligan nature.
The EP opens with a gentle, lo-fi ballad entitled “The Prettiest Song”, which serves not quite as an apology, but at least an acknowledgement that no matter how messy it gets from here on out, how sloppy or goofy or weird all her other words might be, Karen Meat’s Arin Eaton’s heart is in the right place. The song was written by Patrick Tape Fleming and while I can theoretically see it fitting in with his other soul-baring Gloom Balloon tracks, it feels so natural coming from Karen Meat’s awkward, strained drawl that I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
The true gem of the collection is the brief, crisp ode to “Pizza & Beer” which shines with earnestness and self-deprecation. To me, “Pizza & Beer” feels like a sneaky, feminist anthem, the latest in a painfully long line of arguments (that we never, ever, ever should have needed) that advocate for the dismantling and retirement of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl concept.
Throughout the EP, but particularly on “Pizza & Beer” I sense a distinct April Ludgate-ish vibe. Karen Meat seems equally possessed of a desire to do well and please others and make the people who care about her proud as she is with a refusal to change or self-censor or suppress her thoughts and feelings. An eagerness to pursue both of these noble, and sometimes conflicting, goals is at the heart of this project and gives it a compelling, humanizing warmth that is very hard to resist.
Even on “Your Blood”, which is a potentially disturbing paean to whatever the opposite of domestic bliss is, they somehow manage to sound honest and sweet. Karen Meat star-player, Arin Eaton and fellow songwriter Brad Turk (who penned tracks four and five) have confidence and commitment to spare, transforming touchy subject matter into a touching, winsome lullaby.
Digital and cassette pre-orders are open now at the Karen Meat Bandcamp page. Karen Meat & The Computer will be released to the general public this Friday at the Vaudeville Mews.
More information available at the Vaudeville Mews website.