Funky Was the State of Affairs
Technology is turning us into zombies. Big Brother is pointing lasers at our heads. Someone is tapping our phones. That’s just a sampling of the tinfoil-hat theories espoused on FUNKY WAS THE STATE OF AFFAIRS (Hardly Art), the second album from Brooklyn-by-way-of-Denton duo FERGUS & GERONIMO. Dumb stuff, if it didn’t come with such a hip smirk planted on top. Smart alecks Andrew Savage and Jason Kelly don’t settle for the merely paranoid; they aim for the downright stoopid, going so far as to devote a song to their love—or is it hatred?—of Roman numerals. Such lunacy would be at home with George Clinton or Frank Zappa, but musically, F&G are worlds away from P-Funk or the Mothers of Invention. Their half-shouted vocals, metronomic rhythms, and rudimentary bass lines evoke the acerbic and harmonically thin white-boy funk of eighties new-wave bands like the Human League or Gang of Four, only sapped of all pretense. In fact, their closest precursor is probably Devo, with whom F&G share the same overarching conceptual bleakness and a surprising propensity to rock out. Though it’s hard to remember if even Devo was ever this cool. Or funny. F&G are gleeful genre miners; they steal from prog rock, metal, and Motown, while bemoaning a friend’s social media addiction by noting “the urgent speed of droll replies each time you hear the bell.” Aside from the between-song skits, which are annoying in direct proportion to their length, Funky is a delight. Plus, it’s got a good beat. You can dance to it.