Music Time: King Missile – “Happy Hour”

King Missile – Happy Hour

The other day my wife told me how glad she was to have come of age, culturally speaking, in the early to mid ’90s. We’ve had this discussion several times, because every time it becomes apparent how easy it was to have really terrific music placed right in front of you by the paltry-by-today’s-standards number of outlets geared toward putting music in front of teenagers, by god, it’s worth talking about. A case in point for me is this, the concluding and title track to the album that “Detachable Penis” came from. I still think “Detachable Penis” is very funny (“He wanted twenty bucks, but I talked him down to seventeen”). But what I couldn’t have known when I brought home the CD in its giant cardboard longbox from Tower Records was that the album that surrounded that novelty classic was stuffed with really first-rate alternative-rock musicianship. Some of it was pastiche of genres I really didn’t have any experience with yet (“VulvaVoid” is shoegaze! “Trapped” is mid-period time-to-rock-happily R.E.M.!), some of it was spoken-word weirdness and wordplay draped atop roiling hard rock I had no problem appreciating (“Sink,” “Ed”), and a lot of it is just crushingly morose songs about complete failure. “I’m Sorry” and “Heaven,” the third-to-last and penultimate tracks, contain lots of imagery of crushed birds and breaking things that can’t be repaired, all delivered with John S. Hall’s twerpy speak-singing to undercut the heaviness. No such undercutting takes place in “Happy Hour,” a dirge I put on to this day when I want to feel unremittingly awful. Funereal organ, some kind of electronic reverse-tape effect that sounds like something shuffling into a grave, lyrics that conclude with the lines “While the flesh fell off our bodies and we lost our limbs,” so fuzzy and distorted you can’t make it out without the lyric sheet, and on top of it all a melancholy, briefly beautiful piano chords and, finally, a guitar that sounds like it’s bleeding to death. Back then you could stumble bass-ackwards into shit like this all day long. You had it so easy you weren’t prepared for a time when you’d need a song like this.

2 Responses to Music Time: King Missile – “Happy Hour”

  1. Heidi M. says:

    Believe it or not, live SHREDDED. Esp. on VulvaVoid.

  2. I 100% believe it. Chops galore on this thing.