Rapidly gaining notoriety outside of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region, the music scene in the college town of Lexington has made quite a reputation for itself in recent years. The eclectic, creative community has harbored equally unique bands and projects—the most prolific of which is Idiot Glee
. This moniker identifies Kentucky native James Friley’s one-man, dreamy piano-pop outfit that has gained a hefty following at home and abroad.
Idiot Glee’s debut LP, Paddywhack, follows a string of cassingles, compilation appearances, and seven-inch releases that has built a fan base and earned Friley a deal with Moshi Moshi Records last year. Onstage, Friley is armed with just a keyboard and a synthesizer, looping his mesmerizing voice with steady doo-wop rhythms into layers of blossoming sounds. On Paddywhack, he showcases his wide range over 12 sugary and sinister tracks of Motown and Brian Wilson influence.
As a whole, Paddywhack evokes images of a rotting teenage dance hall and a slow-motion Super 8 home movie of summer vacation. The looming is coupled with the bright, most noticeable on the transition from the slow-building brooding of “Trouble at the Dancehall” to the hypnotic “Deep Descent”. Doo-wop mentalities like “F O E”’s bouncy chorus (“No one messes with my girl”) play into Friley’s personal narrative, while “Happy Day” is pure, blissful pop. “Let’s Get Down Together” offers a 60’s teenage ballad, followed by the sugary “Don’t Go Out Tonight”. Friley’s crooning is the consistent attraction throughout Paddywhack, creating a warbled daydream for listeners to fall into. “All Packed Up” displays Friley at his best—his throbbing piano allowing the vocals to lackadaisically flow through the 2:58 ballad.
If anything, Paddywhack situates Idiot Glee as an act to pay close attention to. For listeners looking to delve into Idiot Glee’s spooky pop world, start by watching him cover Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”.