“When it was over it was mighty bad it was mighty bad / It was a heart attack / It was the worst damn time I ever had” croons the voice from beyond our speakers in the first three lines of Streaking in Tongues’ “Inside out and on My Ass,” one of the more seductive songs on the new album Oh My Darlin’. There’s a sense of apathy in this vocal, but at the same time, there’s something wholly relatable that runs much deeper than the enigmatic poetry would have us believe (initially, at least). Oh My Darlin’ is a brilliantly simple and impossibly surreal record made for folk and experimental fans the same, and for all that it lacks in corporate plasticity it more than makes up for in utterly unrefined emotionality.
Punky black and white bedlam reigns supreme over “Rock n Roll Will Never Love You Like I Do,” “Sure as Heaven” and the Pixies-worshiper “Sunlight of a Thousand Babes,” but its balanced out with a near-psychedelic obtuseness in “Wait Wait Wait Wait Wait for Me,” “Our Love (Couldn’t Outrun a Train),” “My Single Wife” and “Nothing Quite Like It in the World” that is unexpected but welcomed all the same. Trying to predict what’s going to come at us next in this tracklist is like trying to pinpoint when and where a hurricane is going to land some twenty years from now, but rather than feeling like a nausea-provoking rollercoaster ride, Oh My Darlin’ feels like a novel dream designed for our unique pleasures exclusively.
“Screw Up,” “Sure as Heaven” and “I’m Gonna Love the Hell out of You” are a little too intense for mainstream audiences, but they don’t translate as being unforgivingly self-indulgent at all; if anything, they fit in with the experimental motif of the other songs here better than it would seem they could on paper. Streaking in Tongues is a never-ending experiment in the bond of a father and son as it can be applied to creativity, and particularly sonic expression, and to expect anything less than what Oh My Darlin’ offers us would be to reject the duo’s craft and all of the inventiveness that it ultimately represents to critics and the American indie music community in general. These two were meant for this medium, and that’s reflected quite profoundly in songs like “A Blessing I Can’t Earn” and the unforgettable “Sunset of a Thousand Babes.”
Moving, thought provoking and at times gut-wrenchingly relatable (in ways that I would have never expected it could be), Streaking in Tongues’ Oh My Darlin’ is an undisputed classic and an album for the ages. If you liked Kindergarten Prayers, this record will feel like the full-color, 8k theatre experience that its silent movie predecessor had only dreamed of being. There’s still space for continued growth on the part of this group’s players, but if there is one thing I can verify for certain it is that Streaking in Tongues’ latest LP belongs on any credible critic’s top ten list as the year winds down to a conclusion.