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Barr - Summary

By Sarah Cordingley

Wednesday May 9, 2007

5RC/Upset the Rhythm
It’s too bad Baz Lurhrmann had to go and ruin spoken word for everyone with his preachy and tactlessly sentimental diatribe on how to live a life (Wear Sunscreen/ Don’t tell your parents to fuck off/ Don’t masturbate more than four times a day etc.). I fear that too many of this generations’ souls fell prey to the gleam of those kitschy little pearls of wisdom and started pursuing lives that involved about as much risk-taking as a JC Penny ad. Fortunately, Barr’s latest album Summary is the fucked-up, brooding and cathartic answer to the disingenuous, positive-thinking-only clap-trap of self-help kitsch. Eat your fucking heart out, Baz, you pompous shit.

This album takes self-reflexivity to new heights. Barr talks about the album itself constantly: I’ll talk about every inch of this thing, this record/ Every square fucking inch/ I’ll fully talk this thing into the ground.” This ceaseless Margrittean (Ceci n’est pas un chanson) self-acknowledgment actually draws you a little deeper into the work and creates a personalized atmosphere. The result is a feeling that Barr is addressing you directly, even though his words are deeply personal letters written to friends and lovers. His delivery helps this too; Barr speaks his verse seemingly off-the-cuff–often tripping on his words–he’s so present that it’s as if a dialogue is taking place. The advice he offers, if you care to extract it from his long-winded and idiosyncratic ruminations, is full of hope.

He says “you only find [faults] when you’re looking for them. If you’re looking you will find them. There is so much space on this earth that is full of whatever you are looking for, and the useless fault can be found there in that space but it doesn’t mean anything. Nothing. That talk is poison–no seriously, that talk is poison.”

See that? Down-to-earth, genuine and real. Instead of speaking above you in the lofty, self-congratulating locution typical of these Lurhrmann-like gurus, Barr is with you on the ground, speaking without pretense or judgment. It has a very endearing effect.