“It must be real hard to live uncomfortable in your own skin/Walking around like you’re in the wrong skeleton/But it’s great to know you’re happy and alive and smiling/In every photo I’ve seen of you recently” – False Idols
If you were to take Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, roll him in dirt, strip away his insecurities, and hand him a rattly acoustic guitar, you’d end up with a product similar to Matt Gibson’s folk-punk project, False Idols. From the south side Chicago suburb of Joliet, this solo artist’s latest release, Parker’s an Anarchist, reminds you how truly humble and tortured a singer/songwriter can be. With themes that cover his passive aggressive feelings towards abandonment, internal turmoil, and missed opportunities; lyrically, False Idols will clasp onto your attention right out of the gate.
The 10-track album begins with a modest twenty-four seconds of Matt explaining that each song was named after friends of his simply because he was tired of giving each tune a title. The second track called “Bandits”(named after a friend’s band) opens with desolate guitar strums, and ends with layers of catchy melodies performed through an alto saxophone, as well as glimmers of xylophone: a common instrumentation pair found throughout the album.
The story continues with tracks three and four (“Jadyn Gwen Stacy” and “Jaymi Clarence”), where Matt explores past conversations with the abandon-ees of his life and dissects their changes in personality.
Towards the middle of the album, the pace is certainly not lost with the help of songs like “Jim Michalik” that keeps your heart steadily pumping along. The track features moments of punk “dadada” chants, draped with more pop horn melodies that makes you revoltingly whistle in your sleep.
Songs like “Jennifer Huber” are why I love folk-punk; group chants, odd strumming patterns, and soul tearing lyrics could only be the general makeup of an anthem this lonesome. False Idols is pleading to stay in touch with all those who have moved away and is fed up with their bullshit about how “nothing’s really changed, and everything’s alright”.
When one feels their life is spiraling down, an immediate reaction is to apologize on behalf of non-existent flaws. They do this all while looking for immediate help. In the song “Paul Sackman”, Matt finds himself talking with a priest on how to live his life, to then be informed “it doesn’t really matter because everybody dies”. As it hits the :45 second mark, the personality changes to a frantic, and heavy handed strum full of back peddling moments of realization that maybe, just maybe, it’s not all his fault.
As the record starts to wind down – almost cinematically – there’s this moment of understanding that both the writer and listener share, and that’s when Matt is reflecting on the aftermath of losing friends, and coming to terms that there can’t be negativity all his life. It’s just the path we all are destined to be apart of. With that being said, the hums of creative synth work, and plucked guitar riffs sneak their way in, only to thicken the happy tension we all hold.
“Chuck Hammond” would turn out to be one of the more gruesome stories spun on the album. With a head nodding guitar rhythm, and intense imagery to describe looking in on a buddy’s coffin, the song takes on an out of body experience. From all this pent up anger and frustration towards the deceased friend, he remembers those stories that stuck, and the little nuances that made him memorable in the first place. But still, misplaced anger is present.
And to conclude this epic of loss, and misunderstanding, Parker’s an Anarchist ends with an apologetic climax aided by the song “Ceasar Martinez”. Reflecting on past statements, and a profound understanding that…well…shit happens, Matt is able to come to terms with events out of his control that have occurred. A powerful drum fill to explode the final chorus takes place, while Matt weeps “god dammit, I don’t ever shut my mouth/is this what growing up is about/I’m really fucking up”.
What started as an ode, turned into a beautifully melodic therapy session. False Idols impressive use of horns, and percussive instruments supported the album’s story to a whole other level. What felt like following a trail of blood leaking from his knuckles after punching a wall, was actually a beautiful understanding of the frustration locked inside each track. Parkers an Anarchist could turn out to be your first, and favorite folk-punk concept album.
The album is available for download via bandcamp’s popular “Pay what you want” pricing and you can check out False Idols live on August 3rd at The Drunken Donut (821 Plainfield Rd.) in Joliet. Super free, super fun, super all ages.