by Cory Kibler
The best part about writing album reviews for Hear Nebraska is being introduced to great local music. I'm sure I would have eventually caught Powerful Science live at some point, or heard them on KRNU or something, but who knows how long that would have taken.
I enjoyed the Lincoln band's new, nine-track album, Super Doomy, upon first listen, and it became even more complex and exciting upon repeat spins. It contains a lot of aspects I really enjoy about music: It’s charmingly lo-fi but is not lo-quality (it was recorded, mixed and rainbowed by Darren Keen); it has great pop melodies; it breaks the music rules in all the right ways, which is indicative of legitimate musicianship; and the lyrics are inventive and funny without being gimmicky, or coming across as insincere. Intentional wonderfully dissonant synths resound throughout. On the first track, “Embrace the Bomb,” frontman Joshua Miller's first lyrics are, “I’m like Peter Pan, I’ve got a nuclear tan, and my shadow’s on the wall — I’m radiating.” It’s funny and grim, but it’s also really ... pretty?
I guess that’s the thing that Powerful Science really masters — they’re able to be super quirky and creepy while still remaining incredibly musical. They’re also clever and silly, but not in a “Look at these weird time signatures, and isn’t it clever and shocking that I’m singing about Easter-egg hunts while wearing a dildo-suit?” way. They just make beautiful songs that also happen to be strange.
“Green Water” is about cholera, as far as I can tell, but it’s gorgeous. Same goes for penultimate song “Global Warning.” I am guessing it’s about global warming, but it’s hugely catchy. If they replaced their awesomely kooky lyrics with generic Top-40 love-song lyrics, and made their songs glossy and loud rather than fuzzy and blown out, they’d probably be knee-deep in designer drugs and soccer-mom trim. But they’re obviously stoked on making creep-pop, and they’re great at it, so they should keep riding the shit out of that snake.
(A note: there is an unusually high percentage of Lincoln bands who are experts at capturing creepiness, humor, and beauty all at the same time. A Powerful Science/Darren Keen/Ideal Cleaners bill would be quite the bear.)
This is one of the more inventive records I’ve heard come out of Lincoln in a long time, and it warms my frosty cockles to hear a band that is all about making music that is FUN. It helps temper the number of bands who are making “serious” music. I love me some sad-sack folk music, and I’ve been known to arpeggiate a sad chord here and there, but there’s something to be said for music that goes well with basements, face paint, and NyQuil-and-Red-Bulls.
Cory Kibler grew up in Ventura, Calif., and Colorado Springs, Colo., before coming to Nebraska for college and graduate school in 2000. He has slowly transformed into a Nebraskan, which left a mess. He plays music as a solo artist and with The Sleepover, and he has played in the past with such bands as Shacker and Robot Creep Closer. He enjoys creative writing and news writing, and has written for various publications and news outlets. In his private, alone-time, he is a retired professional comedian and pet-enthusiast. He his married and has four small animals living in his home, rent-free. Finally, he helps run netlabel Mr. Furious Records with his friend C. Howie Howard. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He misses you. So bad.