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Review: Inspector 34 – Love My Life

If Captain Beefheart and Modest Mouse had a baby that was taught by Pile and Thinking Fellers Union local 282 to make music, it would sound nothing like Inspector 34. This is because nothing sounds like Inspector 34, except Inspector 34. These apocalyptic indie masterminds are one of the more interesting bands to have ever come out of Lowell and, that is saying a lot. Lowell has no shortage of experimental musicians pushing the envelope, yet this band continues to amaze me more and more with each new release.

The thing about Love My Life that jumps out at you right off is the flow of this record. This is not just a collection of great tracks. This is an album and it’s obvious that the band intended it to be that way. A perfect record must have more than great songs; it needs to be a complete listening experience. In the age of downloads and streaming, many bands have lost sight of what an album can be. Love My Life is a perfect record and one hell of a ride for the mind. This is a journey of brilliant madness. A musical thesis blazing through the weirdness of reality while holding on to self-identity. To describe this amazing, weird and wonderful journey is far beyond my capabilities. A work of art such as this cannot be described by words alone, it describes itself as it unfolds before you. The best way I can carry you through what listening to this record is like is with vague thoughts I have as I listen to each song.

We open with the song “Love” and the wonderful weird journey begins. A good opening song needs to let you know what kind of experience awaits you and this song does just that. Next up is “Everybody” which begins with futuristic madness and becomes the social media overshare anthem. “The World Explodes” makes me think of a bluegrass band playing on the porch of a log cabin, only the cabin is floating on a sea of fire as the world is burning around it. “Bugs” sounds like an old pioneer wagon train slowly riding into the Crab Nebula. The song “The Gray House” is everything an Inspector 34 song should be and more. It is hard to pinpoint what that strange magical thing is that Inspector 34 does in their songs, but whatever it is, they are doing it particularly well here. “Let Down” sounds like the-party-is-over blues mixed with hypnotic chanting that may or may not be opening a portal into the unknown behind you as you listen. I suggest not turning around to check. “Thick Bologna” has the best title and it’s a fitting one because this song is thick as bologna, which is to say it is certainly thick, but at the same time it is squishy. It’s like floating with vigorous intensity. “My”. You have got to love continuity on a record; this song lets you know we’re still on that same wonderful weird journey. “Grow Old” is falling while spinning in an antigravity loop rollercoaster inside a blackhole, but in a good way. 

Now comes “Life” and things are getting wonderfully weirder. “Slake” is the act of seeing it, knowing it, and rising above it; no matter what it may be. As I hear “False Prophet” I find my mind is saying “Hee fucking haw! Let’s trample over the bull shit and ride into a melting sunset”.  At last we have “Ride the River of Light (Screaming into the Void)”, and in this case the title is the best way to describe this song. Truth is nothing can describe this song, but the title comes the closest. As this song slowly fades away, there is a part of my mind that still thinks I hear it. I imagine that the album never ends. It’s as if it is still playing in my mind, becoming the soundtrack to carry me through the frustrating madness of living.

These are strange days and there may be even stranger days ahead. That is why this weird, wonderful journey of a record is exactly what we need now. Dive deep into the rabbit hole, let your mind swim in the warm waters of madness.  Or to put it another way, listen to Inspector 34’s Love My Life

– Jim Phelps


Featured photo by Coleman Rogers