I’m still not totally sure what level of jokery that Kirin J. Callinan is on, but believe me, he’s most definitely got the last laugh.
So online I’ve been seeing people memeing the hell out of this particular moment from “Big Enough,” the latest single from Kirin J. Callinan’s latest album Bravado, and it’s making me revisit that particular record, which contains some of the strangest, most addictive music I’ve heard this year. Callinan is an Australian musician known for his satirical and sardonic take on popular music, who caught critical attention in 2013 for his debut Embracism, a stark take on EDM and alternative music with jagged, darkly tongue-in-cheek lyrics. It’s a peculiar, affecting record where Callinan pushes your buttons and delivers each line between ragged breaths. You’re not sure where he’s going with it, and he balances a fine line between being engaging and repugnant. Earlier this year he returned with Bravado, which brings that same twisted energy but instead of on cold, disaffected beats, Callinan jumps into Top 40-esque pop. And how does it sound? Well…
Bravado is a perfect name for the record. Callinan dives in, delivering ridiculously catchy and anthemic tracks which sound right at home on the Billboard charts but is packed with tons of irony, satire, and a knowing wink. The record isn’t serious in the slightest, from it’s off-kilter lyrics to the way it plays with genre conventions, but Callinan plays it straight, highlighting the absurdity of the imagery and sound of pop music in 2017. I mean goddamn, the cover features him shirtless and pissing on his own face, literally “taking the piss” (and you don’t really wanna see the art inside…). He even announced (or denounced) the record as “TRASH” when he revealed it, and the label which released it is known as Terrible Records. Each and every song on Bravado has trite, saccharine, nonsensical lyrics delivered with gusto, much like actual pop records. Word to Neil Cic, but Callinan has really delivered an outstanding and fun record which is simultaneously a joke and not a joke. It’s pretty wild to hear, actually.
Anyhow, “Living Each Day” is a great example of what I’m talking about. It’s upbeat, confident, and endlessly replayable. The lyrics prattle on about living each day to the fullest, but it’s just an excuse to keep the murderous tendencies at bay, eventually breaking down to declaring that you should just do whatever, throwing its faux-uplifting message into the trash. The lyrics don’t matter, the song doesn’t matter, but somehow, it still matters. Just hit play and you’ll see what I mean.