In 2009, Idiot Glee is born in the Resonant Hole. Friley, with fingertips that speak fluent Debussy but prefer to cuss in ragtime, declares via Casiotone, “I Did It Sober.” It’s a manifesto of sorts: James’ veins flow with Ale-8-One, not bourbon. His minivan gives pretty much the only safe passage through that otherworld of predawn Lexington—as he asks us on “I Want the Night to Stay”: “Am I the only one who believes in staying up late?”
Each track on IG’s latest, Paddywhack, isolates the atomic essence of the pop song, replicating that perfect moment ad infinitum until the warm tides of melody, of rippling organ, of submerged synth bass, of falsetto oo’s have surrounded and engulfed you—feel flows more Mesmer than Brian Wilson. It is music so compact and honest and perfect that I witnessed it transform the beer-sticky, sweat-humid, furniture-deprived living room of the Lexington house venue appropriately christened “Crib Death” into a Gothic cathedral: a chiaroscuro of sound and feeling that is nothing short of holy, redemption for all of us High Life-swilling lowlifes. Yeah, he’s that good live. Scores of blogsick youngsters self-consciously burying half-written Spector-rips ‘neath reverb plugins are missing the point: what makes great bedroom pop great is truth. True vulnerability. True loneliness. True heartbreak. And, as long as we’re messing around with overdubs, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a truly preternatural ear for vocal harmonies. Friley has nothing to prove, ‘cuz it’s all right there. The idiot glee—a code for eternal youth.