2024, Music

Of the Last Human Being (2024) by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

I had an opportunity to see a reunited Sleepytime Gorilla Museum this winter. In order to do so, I would have had to rent or borrow a car, or convince a friend to drive me, and get a hotel room. This, apparently, was too much for me (and very close to a trip) so I didn’t go. Listening to their first album in 17 years, I am so mad at myself for not going. I really need to overcome this lazy/conservative approach I have to things like this: I could have easily afforded it and it might have been fantastic. Instead, I probably watched TV that weekend, or something.

My review of Undestroyed by Free Salamander Exhibit is quite positive. (If you don’t know, Free Salamander Exhibit is SGM minus a few key members plus some other people.) But listening back to SGM’s entire oeuvre today I find Free Salamander Exhibit’s one and only album to not really hold up to SGM’s best stuff, at least consistently. (There’s the odd track.( It’s clear to me that Kihlstedt is a vital part of this band and Bossi probably is too, at least in terms of how appealing I find the music. And that’s interesting given how much less into the Kihlstedt/Bossi side-project stuff. (I have tried very hard to like that but I don’t like it as much.)

Musically, I find SGM as compelling as ever. Listening back to all their albums, I feel like this is on the same level as their best work, and is more focused than their earliest efforts, which contain some passages that don’t always work for me. To me, this is everything I want in a reunion album: it reminds me about the greatness of the band, but it also feels vital enough that it doesn’t just appear as an attempt to recapture past glory. I have no idea what I would have thought of this back when I was constitutionally opposed to reunions but I’m no longer that person, so who cares?

Lyrically sometimes I worry this is perhaps their worst set of lyrics, though I did chuckle here and there. Now, the lyrics have never been important to me with SGM but there are a few moments on this record where I cringe a little and I don’t recall ever doing so with the earlier stuff. (Though there are some cringey lyrics on Undestroyed.)

And I must commend them on the sound. Like most SGM fans, I’m aware of everything that needed to happen for this project to happen and I think it sounds pretty great. This has always been a band with good-sounding records but I’m happy to say that, once again, the album is well-produced.

Very happy to see them back and I’m really kicking myself I didn’t go to the show in Cleveland. Such a great band.

8/10

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