Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about Luke Temple, a singer/songwriter, visual artist, producer best known as being the creative mastermind behind the genre-defying recording project Art Feynman. Up until recently, Art Feynman has been strictly a solo thing, a way for Temple to explore surprising sonic landscapes without the burdens of identity.
His forthcoming Art Feynman album Be Good The Crazy Boys changes that quite a bit: Recorded live in-studio with a full band, the album reportedly captures a spirit of restless anxiety while recalling Talking Heads, Oingo Bongo and others. “Sonically, I was inspired by records that were recorded at the late Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas such as Grace Jones‘ Private Life, Lizzy Mercier Descloux‘s Mambo Nassau, and Talking Heads‘ Remain in Light.” And yet, despite those references, the album is firmly rooted in contemporary concerns: The material features songs about fearing the end of the world and struggling with FOMO. Normally, these would be relatable subjects — that is if it didn’t quite seem unhinged.
Throughout his career, Temple has long specialized in a sound that draws from and meshes slightly twisted tasks on Komische musik, worldbeat and art pop. But with the new album, slated for a November 10, 2023 release through Western Vinyl, Temple delicately balances dark thematic concerns like struggling to maintain balance in a toxic, chaotic and mad, mad, mad world with dance floor friendly, hypnotic groove.
“To me, there was a lot of energy that needed to be released as the result of living in isolation for six years,” Temple explains. “It also seems to speak to a general anxiety we’re all holding, but it’s expressed in a cathartic way.”
So far I’ve written about two of the album’s singles:
- “Desperately Free,” a a Fear of Music/Remain in Light-like jam built around twinkling tropicalia-inspired percussion and a hypnotic groove paired with chanted and call and response vocals. “Desperately Free” manages to simultaneously evoke sweaty summer nights on the dance floor and the yearning for something more than our mere existence. “I was thinking about the obsession with spiritual growth or with ‘curing’ death and the compensatory consequences that ensue as a result,” Temple says. “We can’t cheat nature of which we are one and the same, she’ll find balance eventually.”
- “Passed Over,” a breezy and kaleidoscopic, tropicalia-meets-80s New Wave-inspired bop that channels Talking Heads, Zazou Bikaye‘s Mr. Manager and others — but with a soulful yacht rock sax solo from Nicole McCabe. Thematically, the song explores struggling with FOMO with the song’s narrator stubbornly and defiantly saying I’m ok to be passed over/ Let them have it/I don’t care. “It can be refreshing to decide to eat last, it’s stressful if you’re always needing to be at the front of the line,” Temple explains.
Be Good The Crazy Boys‘ latest single “Early Signs of Rhythm” continues a remarkable fun of funky tracks that seamlessly mesh krautrock/kosmiche musik, world beat and art pop in a way that will remind folks of Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads and Grace Jones’ “Pull Up To The Bumper” — but with a No Wave-like sax solo and references to Abrades, a figure of both good and evil in Jungian mythology.
Fittingly, the song is a meditation on opposites — both within and without.