From laid-back, lounge-friendly piano grooves and mid-tempo indie rock, to pulsating, experimental synthesizer instrumentals and trance-like psychedelia, Idiot Glee showcase a variety of piano/keyboard-centric contemporary styles on their self-titled album. With a rich, smooth, crooning baritone similar to that of Adam Green, Idiot Glee’s mastermind, James Friley, approaches this set of ten eclectic songs with lyrics made up of equal parts heart and humor.
With jocular-sounding song titles such as “What’s That Smell?” and “Baby (I Could Be Your Bone)” it would be easy to dismiss Idiot Glee as a novelty act, but the well-crafted, slickly performed and recorded music tells a different story. Whether soulfully harmonizing over a dreamily played piano riff or strumming along to a crisp drum kit, Idiot Glee attack each genre change with a sense of fun without sacrificing professionalism.
The tracks here are smartly sequenced. The album’s catchy, pop-influenced numbers are packaged amidst shorter, more cerebral songs. Synthesizers gently wash through, helping to add color and texture to the instrumental pieces that appear at the beginning, middle, and end of the album. This trio of abstract, vocal-less pieces cleverly reset the listener’s ears each time the band changes gears style-wise.
Standout moments include the charming and thoughtful “I Don’t Feel Right”, the plaintive “Evergreen Psycho”, and the edgy, danceable groove of “The Whip”. During each of these tracks, James Friley maintains a controlled delivery, only occasionally breaking away from his signature croon to provide Bee Gees-style falsetto oohs and ahs that echo out and disappear. Any vocal gymnastics are saved for the record’s final song. A sincere ballad, “The River” begins with lovely harmonizing accompanied by a solo piano before a drum kit and synthesizer enter into the mix. The song builds as Friley at last drops his guard and lets his voice soar moments before an electric guitar cries out, concluding the record with a simple yet effective solo.
It would have been nice to hear Friley’s voice break out of its safe (albeit lovely) croon more frequently during this set. This aside, Idiot Glee do an excellent job of demonstrating that they’re capable and comfortable performing songs in a multitude of genres without abandoning a core aesthetic anchored mostly by Friley’s aforementioned vocals and piano/keyboard work. Idiot Glee’s self-titled album is an overall enjoyable listen and a solid introduction to the many styles James Friley’s project is capable of adopting.