In music, the term ‘controversial’ has lost its meaning. Ten years ago, controversial was Eminem telling us ‘he’s Slim Shady and will shoot you motherfuckers.’ Ten years before that, Rage Against The Machine widened eyes when they didn’t do what we told them. Ten years before that, the image of Boy George was questionable. So, with almost all genres singing about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll where does controversy lie?
Nowadays, you’ll probably find a pop punk bank releasing an album about adopting stray animals controversial. Yet, in our perverse society we’ll analyse this as some form of repressed sexual desire. I’m not sure what happened to controversy, it must have been replaced by otherness. Mindless has that in abundance! In my mind there are few as respected borderline mainstream/independent bands who sing about taking drugs and fucking you, but actually mean it – metaphorically of course.
Their latest album, How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit And Love Mindless Self Indulgence, released in May of this year is a another true testament to how they force themselves inside you, and it’s a good thing. In this album, Mindless is viewing life on a spectrum of colour. White representing the decadent displays of immoral decay in society, and black the flourishing, virtuous life of sobriety; and our subject, the witness, seems to be flitting from one end to the other.
The witness is introduced in the first track, ‘Witness’. He briefly summarises what the album will cover, who the players are and what we should expect. In 3:17 minutes, he prepares us for a journey with him experiencing his inner turmoil and psychological conflict. He’s preparing us for the persistent conversation between his psyche and Mindless. He wants you to know that by the end, you will be part of him, in him, with him. You will have moved on from your pit of doom, in his case his addiction to PCP (which explains why destruction is white), and reached the light – Mindless Self Indulgence.
In ‘Witness’, the witness speaks to Jimmy (lead vocalist) telling him he does want to change and end his life of addiction. At one point the lyrics ‘let’s fucking die’ representing an extended hand of salvation, but they are instantly followed by a ‘give me time’ with no instrumental backing – a deliberate emphasis on the phrase. This is indicative of the witness’ acknowledgement that a transition from such an ingrained lifestyle to abstinence will be painful. Further representations of this wavering between a desire to change and the pull of old habits are demonstrated in ‘I Want To Be Black’. As the extremes are viewed as contrasting colours, the witness places himself in the discussed ‘grey’ area wanting so desperately to be black.
Often drug abuse begins as a recreational habit, but the consequential behaviours will lead to a downward spiral of self-loathing based on bad judgements. The witness reflects on his experiences in ‘Fuck Machine’, ‘Ala Mode’ and ‘Jack You Up’, but in ‘Anonymous’ he examines how he (and many others) chose to deal with this situation through depersonalisation. Finally, in ‘Stalkers’ he notes how he found himself in a suicidal situation based on the lifestyle he was living. A harsh warning/reminder of the way many individuals choose to leave this world of addiction when it becomes overwhelming. Instead, in ‘Ass Backwards’, he admits to making bad judgements and finds the strength to change.
So, is this album worth the download fee? I think it is. Mindless points out to us, who indirectly are the witness, that while the road to enlightenment is never easy, as heard in ‘You’re No Fun Anymore, Mark Trezona.’ Plus, once you reach the darkness, it ‘Just Gets Worse.’ However, when compared to the self-loathing, depression, suicidal thoughts and dark repeat cycling of instrumental ‘I’m Not Here To Make Friends’ – a bonus track describing an addicts state of mind – sobriety is sweet!
Mindless are realistic, honest and somewhat brash. How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit And Love Mindless Self Indulgence is another representation of their ability to relay a message in their own way. At the moment, I have the album on repeat with no specific song to skip to. Personally, I think that’s a sign of a well-structured, highly inventive and incredibly meaningful album. I respected Mindless before the album. Now, I’m in awe.
2. It Gets Worse
3. I Want To Be Black
4. Hey Tomorrow, Fuck You And Your Friend Yesterday
5. You’re No Fun Anymore, Mark Trezona
6. Ala Mode
9. Kill You All In A Hip Hop Rage
10. Stalkers (Slit My Wrists)
11. Jack You Up
12. Ass Backwards
13. Angel (bonus track)
14. I Am Not Here To Make Any Friends (bonus track)
15. Last Gay Song (bonus track)