Saturday, May 2, 2009

Adam Balbo - Fix

San Francisco's Adam Balbo comes from the Jeffrey Lewis/Adam Green school of folk; his lyrics are funny because they're awkwardly realistic, and because they're perhaps not supposed to be funny at all. Rambling and conversational, by a happy guy who's playing the sad bastard. Or, depending on your outlook at the time, by a sad bastard attempting to make a joke.

“Obligatory Highway Analogy” is sort of a perfect love song that, like all other songs on Fix, is aware of itself and its intentions, the love song for the man who's too embarrassed to admit that a trite metaphor really is sort of the thing that best describes a feeling: “Without you in the car with me the road is just a long-ass strip of cement with painted lines, a wicked fucking scar on the proverbial heart of this enormous continent, through plains, woods, mountains and, of course, the desert.”

“Self-Loathing Song,” alternately, is one of the many tracks on Fix that makes it easy to question whether Balbo's singing with too much of a wink to the camera, playing “emo guy” for a joke. But then, you hear it followed up with “The Girl at My Pity Party,” another sweet, sad bastard love song of nerd non-romance, and he seems genuine all over again.

The album alternates on the whole this way, and though it runs a bit long at nineteen songs (never mind that some of these nineteen are under a minute – this record is just too damn long-winded), there are some perfect anthems for geek love here, as well as a bit of nonsense about feeling like a wrapped piece of American cheese product (“Convenient Dinner”). This is the stuff of pitiful nights alone, and is likely ruined in a live setting, where others' giggles would turn your shared pity party into a crowd-pleasing wink of an ironic joke. Listen to this in privacy.

Balbo's released nearly a record a year since 2001, and the first four of seven are available for free download. All are available via Balbo's MySpace page. He's also looking for west coast tour spots this summer, so give a man a tip.

Adam Balbo - Obligatory Highway Analogy
Adam Balbo - The Girl at My Pity Party

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