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The Corn People - "The (Blue) Corn People" album review

Back at the start of May, I reviewed Three Sisters by The Corn People. While I was initially drawn in by the album's meta-story and strange amateurish, it ultimately ended up unsatisfactory for me. I felt like the songs were too shapeless and the effects too garish and out of control to be used as often as they word. Well, a few weeks ago I got a message from The Corn People themselves about a new album that would appear in the month of June, highlighting a mutated form of Blue Corn People who live in New Mexico. Let's take a look at The (Blue) Corn People.


First off, the album cover to The (Blue) Corn People is very simple, and it's not bad. I like the basic corn pattern repeated. I don't like the digital look to it. If there was more texture, it might be a great cover. I'm glad to see a more simple geometric and abstract design though compared with last time. I do think it needs a little more, like text or some kind of border, but this is a step in the right direction.

"There's a Blue Kernal in Town" is the first sprout, opening with a wall of sound and something that might be physical movement. A cool wobbly synth comes in, continuing somewhat haphazardly at times, along with the standard rock array, before more shuffling and clicks closes it out. The following track is "Rail Runner to Santa Fe", which has a fun carnival sound, reminding me of something from a Sonic the Hedgehog game. The synth sounds almost like a monster crying out to the void during a fierce battle in Tokyo while the J.S.D.F. looks on. I really like the cymbal sounds. "Where the Water Cuts Through" opens with a standard drum beat and a goofy bassline. The synth is pretty nice, and I like the whistling sounds. I really liked the sort of solo near the end. The song sounds like a video game track again for sure. "Lost in Los Alamos" is pretty chaotic at first, but the song takes some really interesting turns with fuzz and bubbling sounds. This could be a really cool rap beat. The major instruments are a little too shrill, and the track is too unfocused to be really great on its own.

"Machining Plutonium" starts really strong with a straightforward drum track and some simple synths. It loses a little focus soon, as it goes off the rhythm, though things come together towards the end. "Tumblr-Snapper" is a pretty weird track with like airplane sounds and slower lounge-style drums. The synths soar up into the contrails behind the jets. "Ba! Ba! Ba!" has some congas or something and a call and response instrumental before going into something that might be played in a pyramid level in a video game. I wish the track didn't just go ahead with new parts every ten seconds; I think it's important for a song to repeat various phrases, hence a verse and chorus. "1947" is really interesting with dramatic drums and whirling winds. The synth is kind of like an alien or a Halloween decoration and, again, very high-pitched. Afterwards, we have "Boots" with a sort of B-52s vocal in the background directing boots marching, somewhat militarily. The vocals are an instrument on their own, akin to Liliput or Pittsburgh's legendary Cardboards. It even has a similar sense of humor to the latter. And this song does have more of a traditional pop song structure. This is my favorite track on the album, and it really shows what The Corn People are capable of.

The last third of the album begins with "Radioactively Radio Active". The title reminds me of Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity. I like the drumbeat and the waves of static in the background. It's a cool production that has more shape and grit than many of the early tracks. "The Atomic Crows" is another exciting track that goes by fast. Like a fast clock, the gears grind to the pulsing beat and staccato synths. The energy makes this another favorite for sure. "Fermi-Pasta-Ulam-Tsingou" is a weird sound collage of watery wetness and slippery synths burbling in a mouth of some space giant. The radar goes off a few times, bringing us the sappy "I Love You, Trinity". "I Love You, Trinity" is a very happy, upbeat, and pastel song. It's something like a cross between Strawberry Switchblade and a puzzle game on the Super Famicom. I assume it is a pining to trinity corn or the three sisters of agriculture that the previous album was named after. This was one of the best songs, saved for last.

The (Blue) Corn People falters in some areas, but it does what it needs to. It shows many sides, many shades of kernal beyond just the titular blue. While it has the wild, freeform synth adventures from before, The (Blue) Corn People also brings pop songs like the closer, "I Love You, Trinity" and the more experimental "Boots". I was getting pretty critical of the album for a second before that track really brought me around. It's got a real cleverness that you don't often see, and it's quite a catchy track. Blended together with the odd space soundscapes, weird sound effects, and goofy circus songs, this album has a lot going for it. The "off" songs give a bit of an edge, a sure strangeness, a willingness to try and fail. And the "on" songs, like "Boots" and the closing track, give this an element of pop mastery. The (Blue) Corn People receives a Good. I hope to see how this stalk continues to grow.

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