“Come on let’s get complicated,” is a standout lyric from the song “American Mercurial,” that puts This Packed Funeral into a juxtaposition. The complication factor is that this band has over 40 members. Yes, you correctly read that. Over 40 members. Over 40! How is that even possible without people stepping on each other’s toes. On average, they have between nine and 13 members in the same room at any given time, hashing out a session.
The reality is that they don’t and This Packed Funeral does an amazing job at distributing sounds and levels and theatrics and creating a life of its own for the album.
Somewhere between Dexy’s Midnight Runners (and that is no coincidence because current Friendship Society member Geoffrey Blythe was a founding member of Dexy’s Midnight Runners), Reverand Glasseye, a New Orleans funeral procession, Fraggle Rock, and a vaudevillian circus orgy, you have the sound of The Packed Funeral.
This album is, like being in the back seat of the car during that scene in Blue Velvet when they go for a joyride. It’s chaotic, insane, sincere, scary, amazing, powerful, and about every other emotion you can think of. What is the most amazing part of this album is the group’s consistency. When you listen to “Don’t Kiss Me, I’m Running Out of Lipstick!” or “Dr. Dracula Who Makes You Get High,” you don’t hear the changing of the guard, or different stylistic renderings based on the revolving member rotation. You can still feel the group’s identity as their foundation is very strong.
“The Fast You Go, The Better You Think” is The Joykiller amplified. The piano just gives it that flavor as they speed out of control into infinity. It’s some of the best punk I have heard, turning Gogol Bordello into a incomprehensible mess. It’s like an episode of Madmen performed by the foursome of The Young Ones. Confucius would have dove into the pit for this raucous ditty.
“So Long Saving Grace” is a coherent Pogues style song as if done by Havana 3 AM. You can feel the dust being kicked up from the machismo of the revolutionaries. “Don’t Get Me Started, Don’t Get Me Wrong” is a very soulful number by the group, if that soul is coming from the essence of Elvis Costello.
Coming to the end of this album is like closing up the amusement park and the feeling you get when you have to walk back to the parking lot as the neon lights become a distant memory. There is so much fun to be had on this album, and that alone makes the ride worth it.