I first chanced upon an early incarnation of the mighty Life In a Blender back in the 80s, during the very un-rock-n'-roll proceedings of the annual Museum Mile festival on Manhattan's Upper East Side. With endearing incongruity, the band plugged in and set up just steps away from the iconic Engineer's Gate on 90th Street, to play their then-fledgling brand of surrealist garage pop to the neighborhood's corduroy-clad affluents. By the time they'd careened through "Dogs Know How To Do It," I knew I'd found something special.
Over the next several years, I watched the band, led by ringleader/vocalist/songwriter/primary puppet-master Don Ralph, graduate from such humble beginnings to grace the stages of long-since vanished Manhattan venues like The Marquee, McGovern's, Fez and, of course, CBGB. Through the course of six studio albums, Life in a Blender has honed its approach from prop-laden nyuck-nyuck rock into a brand of sophisticated pop that, while still firmly rooted left of center, is surprisingly rich in its depth and wit.
Where the band's previous effort, 2007's The Heart is a Small Balloon was comparatively nuanced with supple strings and at points poignant and introspective, Homewrecker Spoon finds Life in a Blender straining at the leash. Rife with brash brass and clangy guitars, the album bursts out of the gate at full sprint with "Go To Man," a frenetic spin on Joe Jackson's "I'm The Man" that wobbles in signature style between the silly and the sinister. Though steeped as ever in Don Ralph's absurdist lyrical sensibility, for every strange turn like "The Rain Makes Me Thirsty" (a tortured ode to lustful ombrophilia with a nod to a classic Yvonne Elliman disco hymn) or the disquietingly bizarre "Hoot Owl," there comes "Summer Goes Too Fast," a perfectly realized slice of shimmering pop genius.
Twenty-five years after their inception, it's heartening to know that while Life in a Blender might have matured in its ability mesh skewed, colorful narratives with lovingly-crafted three-minute morsels of curious pop, they're still deeply, deeply silly.