Mal Blum has that kind of hyper-enunciated style that’s right there on top of everything, front and center. Whatever happens, however it’s arranged, it’s always going to sound like Mal Blum. Both their voice and lyrics have this confessional quality that gives everything the feeling of a private bedroom recording, though they’re well past that now. I’m going to get in the spirit and make my own confession, which is that my partner has overplayed that “Crying at the Wawa” song Blum did with Chris Gethard so much this year that it’s become a running joke how much I hate it. So listening to this album has kind of been my own personal journey of acceptance. I’ve come to understand that I don’t hate Mal Blum; I’m just prone to feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious when confronted with a certain kind of intimate honesty. Fortunately, this album deals heavily in uncomfortable and self-conscious feelings, so I’m in good company while I figure it out. I’m glad this one has as much of a “band” feeling as it does; I know the multi-instrument twee arrangement thing works for a lot of people, but this is connecting with me a lot more than the older stuff I’ve heard. Songs like “Robert Frost” and “Reality TV” strike the balance particularly well—catchy and driving without losing any of the introspection that makes the singer/songwriter stuff work. This is a good one, even if it’s not always for me. There’s something very real and raw at the heart of it. Also, I looked up a picture of Mal Blum to see if I actually do look a lot like them, and… I kinda see it?
–Indiana Laub (Don Giovanni)