CD Review of Go Big or Go Home by Alex Statan
Recommended if you like
Har Mar Superstar, Tenacious D, James Brown
Label
ManSlut Records
Alex Statan:
Go Big or Go Home

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

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H
yuk yuk, that Alex Statan sure is one funny guy. Dude was a theatre major at UC Berkeley and was apparently part of some “comedic punk band” (at least that’s how his MySpace page tells it). And now, here he is with his own debut EP, funking out, going for the laughs, and possibly trying to present himself as a serious talent all at once. Of course, that’s a tricky business. Is the guy trying to be ironic, or is this supposed to be straight-up funny? A similar sort of thing happened to Har Mar Superstar when he first arrived, but after seeing that guy in action everyone knew the man was serious, even if he did like grooving in his tighty whities.

Statan, on the other hand, is faced with the dilemma of proving himself all around. The cover of this CD doesn’t help matters at all. It looks like it’s going to be a goofy standup routine rather than a musical outing, but then you turn the thing over and Statan’s pictured standing in a somewhat elegant and empty room in a rather defiant pose, as if he’s ready to defend his work. Of course, he may have to, given that his songs come with titles like “Don’t Hold Back (The ‘Ass’ Song)” and “A.D.H.D.” Get ready to laugh, people.

Honestly, the music’s not bad at all, even if it isn’t much more than hokey white boy funk we’ve heard before. And give Statan for having a true command over his voice. Though he’s doing the soul thing here, he’s not overdoing it and knows his limits. Still, it’s hard to be completely amused by lines like “Girl, why you losin’ weight in your ass?” Not because of the subject matter, but just because it falls flat as humor. You get the feeling that you’re supposed to start chuckling at that point, and get down with Statan as he sings the praises of girls who aren’t skinny as a rail, but there’s no real punchline to bring it home.

“High Note” is a trip down the ska lane minus the horn section. And again, the music is good, but it could be better. Something about it just doesn’t feel genuine. This time the punchline is that the lady Statan is singing to is “like a high note…I just can’t hit it.” God damn, but that’s really…not too clever at all. Funny, then, that “Interference” is a straight-ahead pop tune, and one that could easily be played all over the radio with much success.

“Future Luver” is where the Har Mar routine becomes its most tired. Statan’s forced funkiness and humor falls flat all over this one. At one point in the lyrics, he suggests his lady love rent “Rush Hour 2” if she doesn’t feel like going out to eat and “get ridiculous.” Yeah. Again, just not really a funny idea to begin with on paper, and even less so as a song. But then Statan turns around and closes it all with “A.D.H.D.,” which actually has lyrics that are witty enough to enjoy, a super tight melody, and no funk pretense. This is the kind of thing he should have been doing all along.

It’s hard to fault Alex Statan too much. The guy’s obviously doing what he loves, but he needs to concentrate on his strengths and drop most of the goofy routine. He’s got a good voice and given the right tunes he really uses it well. The world could use a lot more fun, light-hearted pop. But the jokes just aren’t very good, and the faux funk isn’t fooling anyone. If Statan switches gears to a just plain rockin’ sound and ditches the concentration on silliness, the guy could go really far. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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