Great Big Meaningless, a repackaging of Helicopter Helicopter’s first two albums –Squids and Other Fishes (1998) and Analog & Electrical Fields (1999), is 60 minutes of woozy rock’n’roll bliss. It’s rare enough to find an entire album that is good from beginning to end, but getting two for the price of one fills you with that warm fuzzy feeling that usually results from two or three tall boys.
Helicopter Helicopter’s songs are built on the steady heartbeat of drums and pulsing bass lines that carry the listener through a trippy tumult. Guitars pinball from undulating drones to jagged attacks to poppy chord strumming and back again. Lead singers Christopher Zerby and Julie Chadwick make great use of the guy/girl vocal dichotomy by harmonizing choruses, dueling on verses, and creating chaos singing lines over top one another. At points everything converges into a sludgy whirlpool, but then surfaces out the other side with razor sharp clarity; a single drum snap or the ringing slice of a guitar brings things back to order. The lyrical scenes are complementary to the music’s sense warping tendencies. It’s a dark and seedy world of drugs, booze, sex, insects, sea life, street life, and violence. The bizarre yet somehow familiar scenes are like something out of a William S. Burroughs novel. The band makes you feel like both their confessor and co-conspirator as you stumble around their world disoriented, but enjoying the ride.
Don’t miss tracks:
Great Big Meaningless
Please Please Tito
Ever Since The Buzzards Moaned
(Author’s note: The original version of this review ran in The Northeast Performer back in 2002 or 2003. They don’t archive their reviews online so I took the liberty of reclaiming my own work from an old hard drive and giving it an overhaul because I really dig this album.)
Checkout my vintage review of Helicopter Helicopter’s album Wild Dogs with X-Ray Eyes in the Boston Phoenix because somehow the Phoenix website is still live even though they’re not.