THE TIGER LILLIES – Ad Nauseam (1995)

Review by: Franco Micale
Album assigned by: Alex Alex

Close your eyes, and imagine it’s 10:00 PM, and you are going to a night club. It’s a fancy place, with waiters serving cocktails, people dressed in luxurious wear, and a large stage at the center. Suddenly, the lights go dim, the chattering of the audience mutes, the curtain rises to reveal a group of three men wearing clown make-up, one of them with an accordion in hand, another with an upright bass, and the third behind a drum kit. The crowd gives an applause, but you can tell by their facial expressions that they are feeling uncertain about what exactly is going to happen. After a few seconds of silence, one of the members gives a count off, and the group begins playing. The singer steps toward the mic, and from his mouth comes…

ShE is THARE she is THARE in the LARdER

Dear god. That voice. That is one of the most ear piercing, off tune, and unnatural singing voices you have ever heard in your life. It sounds like a parrot going through puberty, or an awful female opera singer trying to imitate Louie Armstrong with a Scottish accent. 

The audience roars in laughter. This can only be a joke, right? The band continues playing, not giving a wink of notice to everyone’s reaction. For the first few songs, it seems like it’s all an absurd comedy act. A group playing cabaret music with the lead singer rasping out lyrics such as “Bumhole! Bumhole! Give us a bumhole do!”? Indeed, there’s something strange going on tonight that is, in fact, not quite right.

However, at the fifth song, the atmosphere takes a drastic turn. The music gets quieter, bluesier, as the singer steps to the mic, and, attempting to smoothen his voice like a seductive jazz singer, he warbles:

“Beat me ‘till I’m black, beat me ‘till I’m blue, 
I will, I will love you. 
Beat me ‘till I cry, beat me ‘till I die, 
I will love you. 
And burn my house to the ground, 
I will not make a sound. 
Beat me ‘till I bleed, beat me, yes indeed, 
I will love you. 
Beat me ‘till I cry , beat me ‘till I die, 
I will love you.” 

Alas, it took a song about domestic abuse to get the audience upset. It now becomes apparent to them that, if this is a joke, then it is certainly a sick one. You can hear the incomprehensible angry mumbles of various people in the crowd, as they put on their coats and leave their tables.

You, however, don’t leave. But why not? You find the singer’s voice unlistenable and the lyrics appalling. Why not get your money back and just leave the club? Because…well, because you find yourself drawn in. You can’t deny that the music’s catchy, and that the singer’s ugly voice fits the harsh lyrics. You decide to stay for a bit longer, just to see where this act leads to.

On the seventh song, you find yourself tapping your foot and snapping your fingers. The singer tries sing at an alto range, while the bands plays a groovy samba rhythm. And the lyrics? 

“You are my whore, you are the one I adore,
you are the one that my twisted heart adores,
like a dog I will gnaw, like a dog I will paw,
you’re the one that my twisted heart adores.”

Never mind the fact that they rhymed “adore” with “adores”, the song has a very likable charm to it that gets under your skin, and despite the profane lyrics and the alien singing, you find that this tune only further persuades to stay and hear the group play.

On the ninth song, you begin to feel a deep sadness, as there is something very hard-hitting about this acoustic tune. What is it? Maybe it’s the sentimental melody that runs through, or the way that the singer actually sounds soft and pleasant for once, or those absolutely heartbreaking lyrics…

“God holds your hand then, and she is so strong,
she’s got a hand brake that lasts so long,
and God how she loves you when you feel blue.
Crushed, you’re so crushed, you don’t know what to do.

This world is a ghetto where money is the dream,
and you’ve pawned your last coat, with nothing to redeem.”

As the songs finishes, you can’t help but wipe a tear from your eye.

Although the rest of the performance is a lot of fun, you are also able to take the band seriously. The group tackles almost every single topic imaginable, from growing old, to homelessness, to suicide, to the music industry, to murder, to a little boy having his thumbs snapped off, all driven by snappy accordion music. There are, however, two particular songs that catch your attention – “Jesus” and “Violet”. The former details the cause and effect of homelessness from a second-person point of view, giving you a personal gut-punching perspective of the situation, while the the latter is a humorously tragic song about someone who is executed after being falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, only to be found innocent the day afterwards.

After the group finishes their final song, they take their bow, walk off stage, and the curtain closes. You look around, and notice that there is no one left in the audience. Well, that is, except for one sole person, standing right at the very front. Through the entire show, this man had been dancing bopping, and singing along to the music with great enthusiasm. Out of curiosity, you walk towards him, noticing the bubbly expression on his face and the inability for him to stand up straight. Since he doesn’t seem to notice you, you tap his shoulder to catch his attention. 

“Uh…hello there, how did you like the show?” you ask, as you tap his shoulder to catch his attention.

He turns to face you, and, with an illuminating sparkle in his eye and wide smile more heartwarming and proud then you have ever seen, he responds, boosting with assertion and confidence:

“Ah! One can argue that the phenomenon of the pigs running is caused by the will of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 8:31) to which we immediately answer that all pigs must die and we do have other artists much more skillful in transmitting the complicated symbolism of such unlikely scenarios!”

And with that being said, he turned the other way, walked out the door, and disappeared into the moonlit night. 

You never saw him again.

Author: tomymostalas


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