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The Solipsistics
Jesus of the Apes
2000, Frigidisk

The Solipsistics is the forum for Jeffrey Owen McGregor to express his world-weary perspective about our confusing modern world, armed only with a waveringly insecure voice. But this youngish voice sounds like an odd match for McGregor’s sophisticatedly literate lyrics. Like a musical Ben Stiller, McGregor has a bit of a victim complex, and his songs poke sarcastic fun at many of his own troubles. "(They Tease Me Because) They Like Me" is saturated with denial about the very existence of human cruelty, and "Employee of the Year" makes the workplace sound like some absurd Kafka set piece. McGregor’s perspective alternates between introspection and sociological observation. "Industrial Artist," for example, paints a bleak picture of man’s chances at ever accomplishing a fair and equitable civilization. Both insistent piano and early Beatle-styled guitar-pop drive The Solipsistics music. There’s a childlike naïveté to these self-analyzing lyrics enhanced by the group’s kid-friendly singsong melodies—almost like a less paranoid Talking Heads. Most of these songs are stripped down to their bare necessities, but occasionally—as with "Monolog"—the vocal harmonies are nicely layered. Imagine if Billy Joel reinvented himself into a piano tinkling Gothic artist, and you’ll be closer to conjuring a mental picture of what The Solipsistics are all about. McGregor tends to be a little pathetic, and you might just feel like bonking him on the head and shouting, "Hey, why don’t you mix in a smile once in a while?" Nevertheless, nothing is finer than an intelligent manic-depressive, especially if you’re in the mood for that kind of thing.—Dan MacIntosh

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