Glitch art, a practice that exploits computer bugs in the creation of aesthetic objects, seems unsuitable for describing an album like killer BOB sings, JOBS‘ first full-length release under their new name (formerly just killer BOB). The album, out today through New Amsterdam Records, is, after all, an analogue affair—JOBS, a three-piece, is drummer Max Jaffe, bassist Rob Lundberg, and guitarist Dave Scanlon. The interplay of experimental noise and improvisation with melodic pop, however, confront us with an album that is difficult to grasp but for its commitment to the glitch, here more broadly interpreted not as a digital bug but as a moment of discord that signals the intrusion of the unexpected into the rote. The glitches on killer BOB sings ground an aural experience that is at once deeply personal and wholly alien.
The album is at its most familiar on lead track “Patient Angel,” softest on “Fed Well,” and wildest on closer “Fear May Be a Builder,” but it’s most legible at its midpoint, titled “Rhythm Changes.” The track opens with a martial drumbeat, rapidly-strummed, distorted guitar, and rapid chanting. Throughout its five minutes, all these elements will glitch out: Jaffe solos, Scanlon noodles up and down the scale, and the vocals crystallize, briefly, into English. The singular strangeness of those glitches and the way that they interface with an otherwise-monolithic five minutes disturbs the stable grounding of genre. “Rhythm Changes” is not merely a pop song, nor an improvisation, nor even is it some novel invention from JOBS. It’s all of these things at different times.
Glitches like those exploited by JOBS remind listeners that we understand ourselves as a border that demarcates what a song is and what it is not, but we have, in reality, very little idea of what a song isn’t. By extension, we realize that, when we feel as though we understand a song, we’ve grasped only how lost we are. While that’s an alienating experience akin to the noise drone of acts like The Dead C (killer BOB sings drones on at times, notably on “Spriiiiiiiiiing”), it is also an authentic interaction with the music—a deep, emotional payoff on par with the greatest pop songs.
It’s an experience as uncanny as that first glimpse of the grey-haired killer BOB in Twin Peaks, WA.
You can stream killer BOB sings below.