Frances Chang: support your local nihilist (destiny is a dog) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, December 2nd, 2023  

Frances Chang

support your local nihilist

destiny is a dog

Jul 21, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The opening track here, “p much deranged,” gets about 20 seconds of lo-fi “coming to life” lift before its creator wrestles it to the ground and scatters its parts about accompanied by a ceremonial raga-infused musical backdrop. Which is fitting for a song that details the struggle to find solace in life. Brooklyn based artist Frances Chang (of giant peach and die artist) clearly has pop and melodic instincts, but an even higher drive to stray from anything approaching symmetry or a typical verse/chorus structure. That makes her first solo album, support your local nihilist, one that is challenging to approach but equally rewarding to explore.

Ironically, some of the most digestible tracks here address Chang’s primary theme of disorientation. “It comes and it goes, the grace,” Chang observes on “flower childs.” The song is a perfectly sunny slice of ’60s psychedelic pop à la the Mamas and the Papas. Albeit one that sounds like it’s being broadcast through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel at rush hour. The album’s centerpiece arrives on “headless,” where Chang takes a winding course around a prickly garden full of tuneful paths that are abandoned as quickly as they are stepped foot upon. The song’s power, along with most of that of support your local nihilist, comes from Chang’s resolve not to fully succumb to brushed up against melodic lines.

Chang records her music wherever she happens to be in the moment and the recording is both cemented in lo-fi roots, but also uncharacteristically of the genre, cluttered with all manner of instrumentation and stray sounds. Detuned guitars and hushed vocals clash with sounds of toy-like xylophone or pounded upon piano keys. Chang’s primary partner for the recording is Hunter Davidsohn (Sheer Mag, Porches) and they throw all manner of curves into their process as they go. Among many other artistic pursuits, Chang is also a visual artist and some of the album’s densest moments derive from her instinct to scuff up a pretty passage or add a splash of incongruous color where it might not instinctually belong.

Some tracks on support your local nihilist, such as “escapism,” meander by hardly noticeable, but most are a bracing mishmash of partially explored ideas that benefit from the teetering upon collapse energy of the proceedings. The title track summarizes the album’s schizophrenic approach best. A combination of the lo-fi beginnings of one of Liz Phair’s most stripped down tunes melded with the punctuation of Guided By Voices’ Bob Pollard’s high-kick antics when its punkier moments find their grip. And back and forth it goes to a church organ drone at its end. No doubt these songs could never be performed live note-for-note as they are here or ever be recorded exactly the same. Albums, films, and museum pieces may be static things, but some of the most impactful ones convey the physical effort expended in their creation. Chang’s support your local nihilist represents her innate understanding of that. (

Author rating: 7/10

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