If this album had been released about a decade ago at the very latest, it probably would’ve been anticipated more favourably. At least then Jimmy Urine would’ve had the boon of Mindless Self Indulgence to go off, instead of bit parts in Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 being his only recent appearances of note. But now, Mindless Self Indulgence are basically irrelevant and hardly looked upon with even the faintest nostalgic connection, and with the reversion to Urine’s birth name as a clear attempt to distance himself from that spotty part of his past, it says a lot that the part of this project that’s been documented the most is the guest appearance from Gerard Way.
But listening to this album, you get the impression that Jimmy doesn’t know or believe any of this. To him, his old audience is still there waiting for him to come out with a new album to blow them away, and considering this is more of the same gratingly obnoxious synth-punk that defined Mindless Self Indulgence, he’s trying to come back and be a transgressive, controversial voice once again. Why else would the opening track be called Trigger Warning and boil down to little more than listing taboo or sensitive subjects that may or may not appear here? And while it’s clear that Jimmy is trying to rally against the clean-cut rock landscape apparently fostered by the “offended by everything” generation, when that comes down to blind, shallow provocation with nothing else behind it, it’s hard to take any of this seriously or even parse out a point beyond appealing to an edgy teen audience that really doesn’t exist anymore.
It’s not as if being deliberately annoying is off the table either – the outro track Two And A Half Years essentially confirms that to be the case, and there’s no way that the excruciating high notes in the cover of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights can be anything but – but that’s not the end point. Rather, Jimmy’s over-extension goes as far as to reclaim his persona of the weird MySpace gremlin that typified the spasmodic nature of his band, and when that’s stretched over an hour of borderline aural torture with little rhyme or reason, it becomes the musical equivalent of asking to be punched in the face for attention. It’s perhaps most embarrassing when any of those pretensions towards edginess rise up that leave Problematic and Do You Kiss Your Mama With That Mouth as the kind of unformed screeds you’d maybe expect from a fourteen-year-old instead of a man who’s almost fifty, but what’s even more baffling is how this could almost be pitched as a larger revival of early- to mid-2000s scene-kid tropes. Fuck Everything illustrates this the best as a nihilistic, misanthropic love story alongside Jimmy’s wife Chantal Claret that would’ve gone down like gangbusters about ten to fifteen years ago, and while getting friends from the time in for leverage and name recognition has been this album’s greatest asset thus far, it’s not like they’re much of a presence; why Serj Tankian believes off-peak rambling on If It Ain’t You Today it Will Be You Tomorrow to be a better use of his time than making new System Of A Down music is a complete mystery, and even while Gerard Way is undoubtedly the best part of Sailor In A Life Boat, he’s not given a lot of room to do much.
But then there’s the case of the music itself, and while it’s already been established that this album being sonically jarring and horrific is probably the point, that doesn’t excuse how straight-up terrible this can be. That’s not that case all the time, thankfully; it’s actually quite well-produced with enough clarity and polish to work in its favour, and it gives a song like That’s How Jimmy Gets Down a bit more gusto to make it a very clear highlight. It’s a shame that’s not the case elsewhere though, with the blaring synths and Jimmy’s totally unstable vocals mashing everything together into a horrid clash of noise on tracks like What A Fool Believes and the positively intolerable Random EMO Top Line Generator. It’s frankly impressive how virtually every single track has at least one element that completely undoes any positive work around it, tinkering with a sound until or breaks or is rendered unusable simply because of Jimmy’s shrieking presence that feels like the result of copious amounts of cocaine and caffeine. It’s barely ever pleasant to listen to, and even in the solitary oases of tolerability, the fact that another moment of grating annoyance is just around the corner ruins any possible enjoyment.
Even with all that though, it’s not as if this is the sort of album whose ubiquity only amplifies how horrendous it is. For the most part, no one will care about this album, and it can live out its forsaken existence without the need to get anyone to pay attention to it. And while that’s something of a consolation that softens the overall blow somewhat, this is still terrible, trying to revive a career that rightfully flamed out years ago with no suitable evidence of why it should ever be brought back. Maybe the argument can be made that a manic presence like Jimmy’s is at least novel in alternative music today, and while that’s true, the work that comes from it has no place in any sort of polite society. Even if it’s there for a reason, it really does say a lot when the closing track sums up the whole experience of this album in the best way possible: “If anybody remembers you after this shit, I will be really fuckin’ surprised”.
For fans of: Mindless Self Indulgence, Le Tigre, Does It Offend You Yeah?
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Euringer’ by Euringer is out now on UCR / Metropolis Records.