CD Review of If by Mindless Self Indulgence
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The End Records
Mindless Self Indulgence: If

Reviewed by James B. Eldred


indless Self Indulgence has always seemed to be a band that has played by its own rules. And while this attitude was probably the reason they were dropped by Elektra after the release of Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy in 2000, it finally seemed like their take-no-prisoners attitude paid off in 2005 with the release of You’ll Rebel to Anything. Undoubtedly the best record the band has recorded to date, it featured several tracks that seemed to be unapologetically attacking their own fanbase, with songs like the manifesto-like title track, “Stupid MF,” and “2 Hookers and an Eightball.”

Either most of those fans didn’t get it or they appreciated the honesty, because it was their biggest hit to date, and since then the band’s fanbase has exploded, primarily with the emo-lite teenagers the band was attacking the most on You’ll Rebel to Anything. In the ultimate act of irony, the band has since signed a promotion deal with trend-vultures Hot Topic, and their latest tour is even “Presented By” them. So while You’ll Rebel to Anything was a savage indictment on the heavy-on-image-light-on-meaning culture of today’s youth, If is seemingly a promotion of same.

Opening tracks “Never Wanted to Dance” and “Evening Wear” seem to pander to the hair-dyed emo “punks” with their generic lyrics about getting dumped. And while in the past Urine has exclaimed the joys of banging underage girls (and boys), now all he can muster is simple infidelity with the boring “Issues” chorus of “It’s 3AM / She won’t put out / Let’s go make out with her friends / Let’s make out with her friends’ friends.”

This is tame for Jimmy Urine and his cohorts. In the past they’ve praised preschool panty shots, recorded a cover of Method Man’s “Bring the Pain” with N-words intact, and begged Ferguson from “Clarissa Explains It All” to ejaculate on them. Now they’re railing off some quick riffs about masturbation and impotence and expecting us to be shocked by it.

Making the decline of Urine’s songwriting even more frustrating is that he still has it when it comes to writing the music. Even the most benign and banal lyrics on If feature stellar music behind them. MSI’s crazy mix of industrial, hip-hop and punk is still one-of-a-kind and elevates many tracks with mediocre lyrics to a tolerable level. The crazy beats and synth melodies save the day for most of the weaker tracks on If.

When both come together, which is sadly rare this time around, it shows that MSI is still one of the most powerful and entertaining bands playing. Emo kids are notorious wusses who are in desperate need of an ass-kicking anthem. “Lights Out,” with its hooray-for-random-violence lyrics (“Punch their lights out / Hit the pavement / That’s what I call entertainment”) fits the bill. And “Revenge,” which previously reared its head way back on the band’s 2002 live album Alienating Our Audience, finally gets the studio treatment on If; the transformation of the chorus into a cheerleader cheer is nothing short of genius.

It’s hard to tell whether MSI have fallen into a rut with If, or if they have willingly jumped into it to make a quick buck off their rabidly loyal fanbase. The sad truth is that Jimmy Urine is pushing 40 now, so maybe he’s having a hard time relating to all those kids today.

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