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Bagger - "Bagger" EP review

I got a message to the Skull Valley page last week about a new album that just got released, Bagger by Bagger. Sam Casale is the sole member of Bagger, a weird name that is appealing to me in a way. He used to be a vocalist in a hardcore punk band, but Bagger is a lo-fi/dream pop/bedroom pop project.

The cover art is strange. It has a nihilistic tone and a strange character that reminds me of a badger. The simplicity of the sun in the background seems intentional, and I don't mind the figure in the front. The colors are extremely bright and jarring, and I don't like the plain text in the bottom right, the holes in the image (where it is transparent or white on the edges or near the linework), the blurriness, or the black border.

The first track on Bagger is "Stii Cine Esti (You Know Who You Are)". It's okay. I like the production, the deep drone dreams that encapsulate the track. The guitar work is pretty typical for this kind of stuff, clearly sprouting from the Dream Academy, Cocteau Twins, and the like. I don't like the lyrics at all. They are also along those same lines, a downer rainfall grey wash forever, and the lyrics seem to be describing a failed relationship. It's just not that interesting and like pointing fingers, y'know? "Next" has a cool start, almost like Your Friend, and then it goes into an interesting yet awkward noir, trip-hop sound. The lyrics continue down the same path as before, unfortunately. It seems like the narrator is blaming someone he hurt for not keeping him away, and I really don't think that's too great. Of course, I'm just looking at this through the lyrical window that I have. "Study Break (Intermission)" is an awesome instrumental trip-hop piece. I love the dissonance, the flute, the start and stop of the beats, and the jazz instrumentation. There's some great sampling on here.

The second side begins with "Trust". It's a return to the sound from that first track on the first side, airy synths and vocals both. I have to mention that I don't like the vocals much at all, and the production is particularly lo-fi here. The vocals sound awkward, especially some of the backing vocals. I kind of like the backing vocals for being so odd, though they make the song over-the-top in a campy and humorous way; unfortunately, I assume that is unintentional. The instrumentation is really basic, quiet, droning guitar and clear drums. The vocals are another downer about the same stuff. "What I Say vs. What I actually Mean" is very self-gratifying and accusatory, spoken-word like Henry Rollins with some big words. It's very, very melodramatic. The instrumentation is like a ballad. It's too much, and I really don't like it. I like that the final track "Galactus (Nothing Left to Give)" uses a pop culture metaphor. It seems to be wishing the other party well after the failed relationship that has permeated this release. It still seems somewhat entitled to me, and I find the lyrics to be convoluted at times. I think it's often better to use simpler words than flowery language.

Bagger's self-titled EP leaves a lot to be desired. It's a release that arrogantly wallows in grief in an unfortunately familiar way in the current musick culture. While I do enjoy droning guitars and the like, this was too much of a downer. Bagger lacks tension overall. Films, fiction, musick, any type of story pretty much needs tension; without it, there's nothing to build or let go. It's just swimming in circles.

It is nice to see a variety of sounds here; they don't work perfectly together, but they aren't completely alien to one another either. I didn't expect the trip-hop elements at all, and that instrumental one was my favorite of these tracks. It was strong, confident, and powerful, something that I wish the rest of the album had. There's a lot wrong with this album, and unfortunately, I cannot recommend it. Perhaps the next Bagger release will be better. Bagger gets a Bad.