Idiot Robot – Idiot Robot Review

Once again, here we are. Being that person who routinely chooses review fodder based upon only band name, genre and album art, I encounter countless risky promos. Today, Idiot Robot, an American duo coming out of Florida and Arizona, enters my cubicle with their self-titled album. The band claims to offer something I’ve never heard before—death pop. Obviously, I had to know what that sounds like, because my imagination ran absolutely wild with possibilities which all sounded heavenly. Did imagination match reality?

Nope. I Rick Rolled myself into Until the Sky Dies during the Friends era of radio rock. This means that while I understand what Idiot Robot mean when they say this album appeals to fans of R.E.M. and Blink-182, I simultaneously resent their attempt to combine charming pop-punk with the low-fi extremity of something vaguely resembling Darkthrone. For the second time in the history of this blog, multi-instrumentalists Ryan Michalski and Clint Listing crash the party with godawful vocals and what hardly pass for riffs. At least the drums keep time this round, though.

Trying to come up with standout moments on Idiot Robot results in a list of cons and no pros. Firstly, lyrics on at least four songs (“You Tell Me,” “123 Blastoff” and “Black Days Again” in particular) not only cause severe cringe, but also repeat themselves. In fact, several tracks throughout the album plagiarize each other’s lyrics without making the smallest attempt to conceal such a dearth of ideas with clever re-wording. Further deepening the impression that Idiot Robot lacks any measure of thought, most cuts end abruptly in a manner that feels like a mistake. To add insult to injury, both bandmates offer vocals—disastrously off-key and miserably weak—which conspire to enrage any who dares listen to this dreck.

And yet, the duo manage to impart something none of their other projects (so far as I’ve heard) so much as hint at—charm. Maybe it’s the cheerful keys in “Grey Pop Story” or the airy strings that weave in and out of the record at seemingly random, yet perfectly timed intervals. I can’t say for sure. Nevertheless, I am instantly brought back to a time in the nineties where simple, catchy and fun pop-punk was the most popular thing in the world along with high-waisted mom jeans, multicolored bomber jackets and Bill Clinton. Nostalgia only goes so far, however, and closer “Love CL” throws everything out in favor of the sorriest attempt at death metal in history. It’s got all the requisite ingredients (except riffs, of all things) and yet it fails to capture the faintest semblance of anything worthy of the “death metal” moniker. Nostalgia also fails to reconcile the awful kazoo (or maybe a recorder) in “The Way,” which sounds like a quarter-assed cock-up of Maroon 5‘s “She Will Be Loved” if it was covered by Rancid.

Idiot Robot is so deeply steeped in the charm of the 1990s that I find it immensely difficult to hate the record as I know I should. It’s a terrible, awful record with no redeeming factors from any reasonable avenue, but it plays like an equally bad record from “back in the day” and there’s something inexplicably cool about that. I have no conception as to why I stop short of passionately hating Idiot Robot for tricking me with eye-catching genre tags and false promises of pop music that actually captures the extremity of the metal I crave. Regardless, I don’t want this record in my life, in my head or even in my peripheral vision. It’s too bad, too, because it sounds to me like these guys are having so much fun with what they create. I just wish I felt the same.

Rating: 1.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dead Games Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 4th, 2020

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