Willis Earl Beal - Toilet Parade (Ode to NYC) | Track Review | By Volume

The kid that went down isn't dead; he just can't find his phone. The Hold Steady - Almost Everything
A Place That Doesn't Exist - Willis Earl Beal

Willis Earl Beal

Toilet Parade (Ode to NYC)

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Author: on January 29, 2014

 
It’s amusing to speculate how tentative the PR and A&R working with Willis Earl Beal might be. The enigma has a colourful past and a dazzling, daunting demeanor that carries the overburdening weight of an artist that can’t shake their demons. Beal’s had a busy time of late, dropping an album and working with film. Most recently, he canceled a string of European tour dates – claiming it was out of his hands via Tumblr – and simultaneously released a free new EP, A Place That Doesn’t Exist.

As a Beal fan, it was unsurprising to hear the EP start with lo-fi crackles and hisses, although part way through the release I was pinching myself – is Beal really, actually singing “Where is the toilet?” It’s not typically solemn singing from the musician either, it’s grand, pompous even, and gobsmackingly brilliant with its hilarity. “Toilet Parade” sounds like Morrissey whine-crooning things like, “I’d like to know where the toilet is,” all the while there’s a layer of Beal droning opera style in the background, “The sky is blue,” and something inane and unintelligible about dragonflies.

Once you make it past the surreal premise, the picture Beal is painting comes into focus. “Please direct me to the nearest toilet,” turns into, “Direct me in a film about going to find the toilet,” soon mocking what he perceives as thinly-veiled pretenses of New York, whether it’s a festering arts scene filled with those trying to ‘make it’ (a position he has been in) to the off-puttingly self-important mannerisms of the grey-suit businessmen. Beal parodies the farce by scathingly parading its vanity, though the humour surely lies in his conviction that the city would happily parade itself as such.

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