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Man Shed Head Crisis by Badgertrap

Badgertrap made some pretty big waves in the British and American undergrounds with the release of his album Human Sweet Shop back in 2009, and this year, he’s back in the headlines with a slightly more refined look in the sleekly-designed Man Shed Head CrisisMan Shed Head Crisis is structured like a page-turning novel meant to keep its audience on the edge of their seats in anticipation of whatever chills might be waiting around the next corner, and though I would stop short of calling it a concept album, it definitely has a flow that invites listeners to experience its twelve tracks without any interruptions or pauses.

“No Tome for a Crap,” “Despite Everything” and “Spandex Boy” might be just a little too sonically overwhelming for the casual passerby, but when juxtaposed beside their counterparts in “How Long” and “Young Girls,” I think there’s enough balance in this tracklist to justify a bit of indulgence here and there. As I previously noted, Man Shed Head Crisis feels like a record that was always meant to be heard in a dark, quiet room in the dead of night – not because of an overcomplicated construction, but because of its uniquely multidimensional design.

Though there’s admittedly a lot of murky noise accenting the string play in “Just Like School,” “Sandwich-Sex” and “Well Up For It,” I think it was necessary to present the melodies in these tracks this way as to draw our attention towards all of the color in Badgertrap’s vocal elsewhere in the LP. He’s putting so much emotion into his singing here, and though I expected a lot out of his lyrical dispatches in this latest release, he truly does raise the bar for both himself and his peers in the British underground in all twelve of the songs on Man Shed Head Crisis.

Lyrically, I think that most of the material on this record lies more on the enigmatic side than it does the blunt and simplistic, but even when he’s being satirical – such as in “No Time for a Crap” or “Cat Food Fairy” – he’s doing so more in the vein of Zappa than he is a clan of commercial windbags like Bowling for Soup. Badgertrap actually has a lot he’s trying to get off of his chest here, and surprisingly enough, you don’t have to inspect Man Shed Head Crisis to closely to find (and appreciate) its most understated of narratives.

While I only just recently got back into his work after getting word of this record’s impending arrival on record store shelves this year, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t feeling really optimistic about the future of both his sound and his career in general after listening to the dozen dazzlingly eclectic tracks he’s compiled for us here. There are a lot of intriguing singer/songwriters coming out of the woodwork right now, but if you want a guaranteed top-tier slice of surrealism in 2020, Badgertrap should be one of your go-to artists without debate.

Mindy McCall

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