Trendy Skin Disease is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Christian Massey. The debut album of his “Aging Ideas” is a completely electronic mix of synthesizers that have various Rock and Electronica influences and sounds very creative and experimental. The album spans 12 tracks with increasing levels of experimentation and the lyrics deal with how a mundane lifestyle kills the creative person’s innovative mind. The opening track is called “Just Over Seven Years Ago I Broke A Mirror Subsequently My Reign Of Awesomeness Begun“, and what a mouthful that is. Musically though, the track is 2 minutes of upbeat synths with some high hats and a bass drum. The sound really emulates an actual band playing, and the choice of scales and arrangements somehow reminds me of how many classic rock bands write their music. The second track, Ripped Off (Politics As Usual), is the first instance of vocals that are mostly spoken word. The synths are upbeat and percussive and their bright tone paves the way for the track’s whole positive atmosphere. The lyrics on the other hand deal with some heavy and dark subject matter – a beautiful contradiction to the music. Daily Sucker Punch begins with piano and more spoken words, but it has more flow this time making it sound a little like rapping. This track has enough theatricality and serenity to make it fit a tragic movie scene where the movie character is lonely and looking at his memories in retrospect. The following track, Two Days, is a deviation from that track towards a more poppy sound. The drums and synths are fast-paced and the vocals have a very angsty feeling to them as if the character from the previous track came back but with anger and frustration instead of sadness this time. There are even some grunts and growls and screams where Christian sounds perfectly pissed off, it’s amazing. The fifth track is another short interlude with a long name. “With an Inability to Come Through if Even at All And A Voice Determined to Keep Me Off the Ball” has a lead piano melody and some ominous alien-like synths in the background. It feels like it’s building up for some change or some disaster that’s about to happen.
The following track, “There…I Remember When I Called it Here” has lyrics that really define the theme of trying to fit into society. While these lyrics and vocals are full of grit and confusion, the music itself is very forward and progressive with the dissonant synth and the drums playing at regular intervals, and the vocals just delving in between them (sometimes off the beat and timing) to add to the feelings of confusion that the album’s protagonist is feeling. Lofty Is One Of My Favourite Words sounds very funky and fresh. While it’s experimental and creative as the rest of the album, it feels like it could do great as a standalone single because of its song structure, the satisfying tone of the drums, and the amazing synths. It has to be my favorite track here. A Farewell To Innovation is a one-minute interlude with a string instrument sound that kind of emulates a harp or a classical guitar, a synth sound, and a classical piano sound. The short vocal phrase is said in a completely robotic voice, which I found to be both an awesome and terrifying surprise. The following track, Unicorns, has my favorite drumming patterns of the whole record. Very rock-ish sounding fast kicks and blast beats intertwine with calm and serene vocal/synth sections. The way Christian plays with themes of darkness and light through sounds is really second to nothing I’ve heard before. It’s also worth mentioning that this track is where the socio-political commentary intensifies. The tenth track, “Day Doing/Falter”, has a very eerie and deep-sounding synth phrase at its start, then more poppy and upbeat sounds start taking over. I just love it when the electronic synth sounds take the role of the percussion instead of the drums. The middle section of the song is very calm and emotional, and the way the words are spoken in it really gave me goosebumps. I love how this track has many transitions.
The eleventh track, “Vexation”, is the album’s longest track. Clocking in at almost 9 minutes, this one is the culmination of all the amazing experimental elements we heard on previous tracks. In many sections, this track sounded like dark and instrumental gothic music, and then it transitioned back to the upbeat overtones that we could hear in previous tracks. This really made me envision a super creative artist being pulled away by the mundane life that doesn’t want him to be who he wants to be. There are calmer sections near the end of the song that feels like the character is approaching a bit of closure and some peace. The final track, Doors, is very calm and serene, with the vocals being a speech that’s certain and unswayed. This is the actual conclusion and the true moment of reaping what all the musical experimentation and lyrical confusion have sown throughout the record.