Sego Sucks is the name of the sophomore album from Sego. The humorist, self-effacing graffiti-type title sits like a melting popsicle on a sidewalk. Something of surprise, slight-horror, and beauty is happening.
From the outset there’s a lot of grit and spit in what Sego serve. The high-end atmospheric pitch of an amp waiting for action. The scrape of fingers on a coiled string. A vocal track says ‘okay’ and is abruptly chopped. Wallop – a bass that drops like ‘Clubfoot’, and we’re away. The levels of noise across this album are great, and yet the attention to the smalls sounds is even greater. The fingerprints, the places where humans have touched instruments can be hear all the way to the core. We’ll talk about production and performance in a moment or two.
Opening track, ‘Neon me Out’ illustrates the tone, and scheme of things. These ten tracks are populated with a cast of characters experiencing imperfection, appetites, mischief, and love. A narrative casts an arc above the process. “Your boyfriend is a crutch / Your boyfriend’s boyfriend is a crutch” Spencer Peterson sings. Greed, and the measure of American ambition are pricked throughout the album. Personal freedoms are exposed as props, and kicked out from beneath us.
But wait – tracks like ‘Heart Attack’, ‘High Tide’, ‘Whatever Forever’ have critical analysis of all things with a 360 degrees awareness. When Sego make comment they also dismantle their own habits. It’s not just that ‘all this consumerism and shit sucks, Sego sucks too’ See, it’s inclusive. Life is ridiculous. What are we going to do with our time?
Sego pin their manifesto out at almost every turn. There is joy to be had. Through troubled times, isolating behaviors and political uncertainties, there is a real desire to connect, to form community and rebuild. Or maybe we’re just saying that because every track on this album is so compellingly singable. The frame of almost every chorus, not least on ‘Shame’, is built to not only draw in, but amplify the participation of the listener. The verses, too – are dense with cascading association, cultural call-back and sardonic inclusion:“Everyone is trying to sell me drugs / I’m just like you but lazy. What if I’m the normal one, and everyone else is crazy? / All these people all these problems, oh my gosh, oh my darling / All my friends teeth are turning gold, but I’m the only one that’s smiling?
Building on the momentum of their debut album, Once Was Lost Now Just Hanging Around., Sego Sucks establishes the tonal quality of the band. There are no sudden jolts. However, things feel better realized here. There’s a confidence that comes from simply ignoring expectation. Production preserves the intention of the band, it doesn’t project anything. Engineering sounds celebratory – errors are honored not concealed, and the human element is illuminated nicely.
Musicianship is tight. Recorded live, with apparently very few, if any, overdubs, we hear a band in love with process and the material. There’s no overwork, over-shine, or over thinking. This shit is simply seductive – a natural dancer. Any areas where form and poise are lost simply provide moments of authentic character.
With this album Sego have broadened their range. Perhaps not by reinventing sound, or insinuating a new direction. The accomplishment is in the deepening confidence, the efficient focus, and the delivery of a sequence that sounds like a good old fashioned album. Broken down to it’s constituent parts this album delivers infectious moment after infectious moment. Experienced as a whole Sego Sucks has all the feeling of a quiet classic – the type of album that fans will point to and say ‘yes, that’s where it came together’
PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM KENNEY