(Apaches From Paris)
Sounds Like: A train wreck inside of your stereo.
Judging from Phil Brown’s enchanting cat eyes and meticulously crafted goatee on the cover of his album “Cruel Inventions,” one detects a degree of confidence. Flipping over the album and reading the track listing is even more promising, as some titles include “The Grind Me,” “The Diva” and “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” Regrettably, though, Brown’s songs are so bad that they transcend the constraints of good-bad or even funny-bad. Clearly, Brown must have encountered a midlife crisis after years of working in the industry with the likes of Cher and Kool and the Gang. It is just a shame that he had to take out his disillusion on the ears of listeners.
On the track “The Hour To Kill,” Brown moans, “I’ve got an hour to kill and I’d like to kill it with you,” and after spending an excruciating - if mildly hilarious - 45 minutes with him during the span of “Cruel Inventions,” you will certainly want to kill something, and it won’t be time.
As expected, “The Grind Me” is easily the album’s campiest and therefore finest track, if only for its tender lyrics: “Grind me, grind me / Baby, grind me / If you want to tear the whole world up in two / Grind me, grind me / Gotta get behind me / Let’s do the love thing.”
It’s clear that Brown wants someone to get behind him and do the love thing, yet with writing skills that could not even rival that of a garage band composed of restless chimpanzees, it is definitely going to be an uphill battle for Brown. Brown begins the last track “The Cruel Inventions” with a peculiar monologue that blends a half-assed attempt at Tom Waits’ raspy growl with the awkward stumbling dialogue prefacing a porno. This could have a recipe for fun, but Brown takes himself way too seriously.
Handing out an “F” rating to an album is something that should be done rarely, as there tends to be something remotely redeeming. Here, though, assigning an “F” rating has never felt as befitting. In fact, giving this album an “F” evokes the same feeling that one experiences after putting in that last piece to the jigsaw puzzle: everything feels right in the world.