“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
That’s one of Hunter S. Thompson’s finest musings. When life gives you strange circumstances, the truly dedicated take those times and put their personal stamp on the moment. That pretty well sums up Lapse of Luxury, the latest from Brian Wright.
Wright recorded the LP at oddball hours inside a shed in his backyard during breaks from his other gig playing guitar for Aaron Lee Tasjan. Playing the majority of the instruments himself, Wright took about three years to put everything together. Because of the late-night writing, recording, and self-reliance, Lapse of Luxury succeeds on two levels. First, it’s just a real good collection of country-rockers, hard rock, and ballads. Second, it provides a full portrait of Wright’s skill set as both alt-country classicist and evocative, madcap singer-songwriter.
In the current social context, “infectious” is not exactly a word people are looking to hear. But “Patrick’s Crossing” is infectious in the best possible way. Anchored by a swampy groove, it’s warmly nostalgic, recollecting high school baseball, light teenage drug use, and Reagan-era optimism. In a more just world, it’d be the song of the summer, like Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long,” but actually good.
“Heavy Metal Shed Kids” stands out as a showcase for Wright’s storytelling abilities. It’s a dark country-folk tale of childhood friends who’ve gone awry. Passages like “The last time I saw him he looked just like that biker in that movie that was losing his shit while the Stones were playing Sympathy for the Devil / And he had teardrops tattooed on his face / And fuck cops on this inside of his bottom lip / I thought it was funny,” are so stark and vivid in presenting a post-pubescent descent into chaos that you can visualize the characters Wright presents.
While “Heavy Metal Shed Kids” is a platform for the darker side of Wright’s creativity, a pair of other songs showcase his wit and sense of humor. “High Rise” merges an ominous guitar lick with a sardonic look at the transactional nature of working a corporate desk job. And “Tractor Beam” takes the sounds and themes of bluegrass and humorously warps them, comparing being saved by Jesus to alien abduction.
I know, I know, that sounds kind of weird, right? But these are weird times we’re living in. And with Lapse of Luxury, Brian Wright has made an ideal soundtrack for them.