(Did you know in the past three months this has become a strong contender for my favourite album of the year?)
You know this totally slipped under my radar? Of course you don’t, why would you? But it did – the album, I mean. The single I was well aware of. Got a lot of love from the kids in my periphery. Another noise-pop act, great. Felt like we’d been saturated by ‘em in much the same way as they’re all saturated in the same idyllic, beachy haze. Yeah “Bad Thing” – which I just now misspelled “Beach Thing” if that gives you an idea – was a fine single but haven’t we heard it all before?
WELL FUCK THAT. I was jaded. And they’ll tell you jade is a precious gem but you can find it growing in the hearts and minds of anyone conceited enough to consider themselves any kind of expert, as every critic must out of necessity (although like Nick Hornby’s record-store-owning archetype we’re nothing more than “professional appreciators,” and sometimes not even that professional.)
I mean, I wasn’t wrong, really. King Tuff has a nasally, whining register like Seth Bogart of Hunx & His Punx/GRAVY TRAIN!!!! infamy and the riffs are about as groundbreaking as that recent earthquake, everyone making jokes about spilled lattes and such. But look, Christopher Owens just abandoned Girls, and even though Father, Son, Holy Ghost was about as far from Album as King Tuff is from, say, Rachmaninoff, it’s shit like the blissed-out “Lust For Life” that immunises one against the ever-looming threat of emotional growth. And just when you were starting to forget that lying around in your underwear in a shitty flat putting out cigarettes in the top drawer of your bedside table was a valid alternative to living, we get an enigmatic fella like King Tuff to ram it right back in to the public conscience.
And look, this whole smoking business: totally cool. Don’t know what the Olds are on about. Feels good, looks great, smells awful (the linger, anyway) but that’s just a dickhead deterrent far as I’m concerned. Live with it! It’s fun! Besides sometimes I think the only people who really care about me are the ones writing the warning signs on cigarette packs.
Anyway this is all relevant at least barely tangentially infinitesimally possibly because when I smoke a lot and drink a lot the next morning I can do a pretty good impression of ol’ Tuff. He’s got a mucus-y sorta rasp and he uses it to croon out odes to the maladroit like “I walk these streets in the middle of the night / Everywhere I go I am a stranger” and “There’s nothin’ better than alone and stoned / Listenin’ to music on your headphones.” Yeah, why do you wanna go outside for? The songs sometimes follow the fairly typical structure of bratty verses and high-pitched choruses with a few 60s pop bop-bop-bop vocal stylings thrown in for decoration but where, say, your Wavveses and Best Coasts preoccupy themselves with hopelessness, King Tuff’s King Tuff is packed with hope the kind of which is enumerated on jams as evocatively titled as “Keep On Movin’”, where Tuff’s got his guitar that drools and that’s how he stays so cool and he called it “Jazijoo” and together they’re the perfect tune. You don’t need nobody but a guitar and maybe a pen, is what he’s saying. In fact, Tuff’s audioeroticism is so strong that I wonder whether he’s taken the iconic devotion of sleeping with your guitar into the realm of kink, not that there’s anything wrong with that by a long shot, because what’s a guitar but an extension of yourself, a phallic conduit for the creative effluvia? “When I play my Stratocaster / I feel like an innocent kid / But when I look in the mirror / I remember the bad things I did.” HE MEANS FUCKING IT. Ladies, don’t be ashamed! You can get in on this too, for it’s 2012 and I think we can all agree or at least god I hope we can that what decides who you are lies between your ears, not your legs. It ain’t your Fender that determines your gender, that’s for damn sure, and you can put that on the poster when we take this progressive revolution into the streets. #Occupy was just the first step, ALL HAIL THE KING (TUFF.)
So yeah, King Tuff’s all about playing with yourself in whatever way you take that to mean, positing if not preaching a certain liberation in isolation plus self-discovery that I think warrants further exploration. And if you can’t get behind that, good, I don’t want you anyway, ‘cos I may not have a Stratocaster but I found paradise by OSX’s Dashboard light years ago (maybe why I’m compelled to love you all so hard; it’s a tumultuous affair, this) and this lithium-ion battery keeps ME warm at night, believe that. But for the little lambs afeared of political ideology sneaking into their goodtime summer jams, put it all to rest, because it’s all so subtextual via Tuff’s subtle genius that it functions just as well literally as a rip-raw-in’ dive party record to get shitfaced to on your long weekend. And in the increasingly muggy swamps of that particular oeuvre, King Tuff bubbles to the top smelling like a peach.
You can find the blog I’m quoting from here.