Anyone who’s ever worked in the classic office environment can attest to the realities that day-in and day-out work in such a setting is brutal. The only good that comes out of sitting alone in a cubicle is that no one can really see what you’re doing. It’s a shortsighted vision of freedom, but that calendar picture of Tahiti just doesn’t cut it anymore.
I have friends who perfected the art of getting away with doing anything other than job-related tasks. While I’m not sure the band got its name from this type of procrastination, the band’s music sure does capture that aura of trying to avoid work. The first half of the movie Office Space accurately depicted that dread of the Mondays, while the television comedy The Office accurately depicted the monotony of drone work. Combine the two and you’ll love the band.
Surviving office work involves separating your physical and mental states, while actively using them simultaneously. Your physical self is glued to that seat, where anyone who looks can see that you’re “working.” However, your mind is free to wander. In literature, that’s called stream of consciousness. This idea is best heard in “Company Calls” with its drifting and dreamy melodies (“every time I look into your eyes / I’m so disheveled”). That, while being about being with a girl, still evokes that same sense of leaving the responsibility-filled existence and enjoying life.
The work might just be an excuse, though. Could it be that doing anything is the enemy and doing nothing is the goal after all? “If You Don’t Know By Now” seems to be the anthem song of modern reality with the band’s calls to “slap the lawyers” and to “chase the doctors into you bed.” I’m okay with abusing lawyers, but doctors are still useful. They cured some of those STDs, didn’t they?
As much as I might think that the entire album is devoted to being the anti-office, sadly it’s more versatile than you might imagine. After enough of the album has passed, you get the sense the band strangely sounds like the offspring of Queen and Ok Go. Very odd indeed, but the lead singer certainly has his Freddie Mercury moments (“Dominoes”) and the beginning tracks are very light-hearted à la Go (the loser affirming “Oh My” — see the song's video salute to 80s porn — and the highly infectious “The Ritz”) with a light sprinkle of the sunlandic indie rock band Of Montreal (“Q&A”).
However, by the end of the album, you’ll realize that the album isn’t as easy going as it seems at the beginning. Instead, it is more down-to-earth than anything, really. Whether it’s the truths that you’re really in love (“Paralyzed Prince”) or that you’re actually living in the world you see on TV (“The Big Bang Jump!”). Better or worse, C’est la vie.
The concluding “Suburban Perfume” plays like a swan song, a true “final song” like the last episode of The Wonder Years. With its many references to time (“1984” to “1991” to “old” to “fast-forward”) “Perfume” could be a poor boy’s graduation song. I hope so because it wouldn’t be right if the band actually made a song to reminisce about that former office job.