Can it be true? Can Gusfater Yellowgold's Dark Pie Concerns really be the seventh album from Gustafer Yellowgold?
Of course it's true -- why would I start out this review with a bunch of untrue rhetorical questions? Over the course of more than a decade and those seven albums, Morgan Taylor has crafted an entire world about the yellow guy from the sun wrapped in a gauzy '70s AM-rock packaging. The songs are catchy, but what lodges Gustafer into the kindie listener's memory are the lyrics and the videos illustrating Taylor's often surreal subjects and stories.
Sure, you can hear "Sunny Side" as a song celebrating waking up early and having a positive attitude, but the video suggests that it's really celebrating eggs cooked sunny side up (and features at one point some 8-bit squirrels). "Dark Pie" brings a little electronic percussion (hints of Wilco's update of '70s soft rock on "Heavy Metal Drummer") to the public and private shame that is overbaking of pies.
This is an album of food-inspired songs and while there's always been more than a hint of food antagonism in the Gustafer oeuvre, that comes out in full force here -- from the Gary Glitter stomp of "Rock Melon" to the slightly disturbing craziness of "Gravy Insane" to the food-gone-amock soft-rock-turned-electro-rock-rap of "Cakenstein." (I love "Cakenstein.") But Taylor indulges his softer XTC side as well, particularly on tracks like "Cinnamon Tap," "Strawberry Love," and "I Sandwich," which is an odd metaphor for love.
If there's any change from prior GY work, it's that unlike the past few albums, there is no story throughline to the album. It has its "food" theme (though like They Might Be Giants' numbers and letters-inspired albums, it's as much a jumping-off point as anchor), but there's no plot per se. That's fine, but I do miss those attempts at broader stories.
You can get the 29-minute album either as part of the DVD/CD set or just the album alone. I think the music stands up on its own, but hopefully I've made the case for the videos as well. The DVD/CD set also includes sing-along versions of all the songs, along with a 24-minute bonus video featuring Taylor telling you how to draw Gustafer's best friend, the pterodactyl Forrest Applecrumbie, with occasional sound clips from other songs. As with all Gustafer albums, the sweet spot is for kids ages 3 through 8.
Gustier Yellowgold's Dark Pie Concerns is another surreal trip through the Gustafer universe, funny and memorable, both musically and visually. Even if this trip doesn't head anywhere in particular, it's still fun to meander with him. Definitely recommended.
Note: I was provided a copy of this DVD/CD set for possible review.