Joey Cape Let Me Know When You Give Up CD

You know, I was never a big fan of this guy’s output. Whether it’s the skate punk of LAGWAGON, the grungy BAD ASTRONAUT, or cheesy covers in ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMIES, none of it piqued my interest. This latest effort is his first solo record in four years. A fair portion of it is quiet and intimate in a way that had me a little checked out. The titular track does this really pretty thing when it transitions from this subdued lullaby on an acoustic guitar with a phone ringing in the distance. Right when he starts singing “As we wait wait for sea change / Wait for the next wave” there’s this crescendo that he builds to vocally and it’s really nice. But then the drums, electric guitar, and piano jump in, and it sounds like something I’d hear at youth group. Then the very next track chugs along with this lean towards country that I hear in the play between the drums and a slightly twangy guitar. It’s not like there’s a western lilt to his voice, it’s more just a vibe I get. The very next song, “Daylight,” croons in with this ghostly choir of “oooooh”s, some strings, and soft, sleepy vocals. On this record, there’s some weird synth that sounds almost like a theremin, there’s a lap steel, and there’s a female vocal accompaniment. All over the map. I’ll say this: the guy really knows how to build to a break, make strong song arrangements, pen intentional and thoughtful lyrics, and he has a deft control of his voice paired with strong delivery. Each song sounds different from the other, with the only cohesive element being Joey’s singing. This record is anything but solo and, to me, feels like alternative adult contemporary made by a punk. I don’t quite know where to land on this. He’s mentioned in interviews that this is meant to be a distraction from deluge of politics, and if that’s what it aims to do, then it’s perfectly fine background noise.