by Abel Muñoz
Polythene Pam have created a tongue-in-cheek achievement with their sophomore album Metaphors (For Fools), out now.
The trio (Jenn Cuddigan, Anna Dickinson, Coda Gardner) are mavens of the sardonic, something that’s clear throughout this 10-track album. Across it, Polythene Pam continue to mix various musical styles that include pop, punk rock, metal, and country, as well as a blend of their trademark sense of humor with empowering messages.
“We decided to bounce between silly and serious without a specific stand on which is which,” say the trio of the album. “We feel the ambiguity of it helps us laugh at ourselves, and we find that really empowering. It’s a huge part of who we are, as a band and as individuals.”
Metaphors (For Fools) covers a variety of topics like mental health, identity, and marginalization, using this upbeat, whimsical style. Second track “Your Brain” is a distinctive iteration of these components, however. It begins with a soft introduction, characterized by the simplicity of the cymbals. The drums are accompanied by the band’s voices sung in unison, but each individual voice stands out — a tribute to Polythene Pam’s spirit of individuality and collaboration. Addressing some of the complications and challenges of intrusive thoughts, it’s very reminiscent of the songs of Belle and Sebastian and the Kings of Convenience.
The title track “Metaphors (For Fools)” starts off with a classically metal introduction, followed by light-hearted vocals. This juxtaposition highlights the harshness and softness of the song’s message of identity and not caring what others think about you.
“Queen of the Aces,” Polythene Pam say, is “a catchy little ditty in the fine tradition of country music” with a tinge of punk rock. The song was created with the belief that everyone needs a theme song, and it functions on two levels. On the surface, it appears to be about a poker game, but with the use of some clever wordplay it illustrates Cuddigan’s experiences of being asexual.
With its trademark blend of the sardonic and the serious, Metaphors (For Fools) is a joy to listen to, particularly for its cleverly-handled themes. Tackling both issues of queer identity and universal ideas, it showcases both the band’s nuanced musical influences and talent for lyrical storytelling. If you are a fan of They Might Be Giants and country music with a tinge of punk rock, you’ll feel right at home.
Metaphors (For Fools) is available now on all streaming services. Polythene Pam will be hosting a release party on Sunday, September 26 at the Ivy Room in Albany, California.