Quasi: Breaking the Balls of History

Breaking the Balls of History
Breaking the Balls of History
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Sub Pop
Producer: John Goodmanson
Release Year: 2023
Listen: Spotify / Apple Music

It’s been a minute (and about seventeen years) since I last copped a Quasi album. That would have been 2006’s When the Going Gets Going. Prior to that album, I would have called myself a fan. But as my tastes changed, and Quasi kind of got a little weirder and more esoteric, I moved away and didn’t even realize they changed labels to Kill Rock Stars and put out an album in 2010 and 2013. Now, ten years later, and on their fourth label, Sub Pop, they’re back to their old tricks. Which means that there is no mistaking this for a Quasi album — and the more they change, the more they don’t change at all.

If you’ve heard Quasi’s keyboard and drum attack in the past — and liked it — you will find yourself in a nice 1990s Pacific Northwest, indie rock cocoon with Breaking the Balls of History. Of course I’m not lovin’ the album title. It’s just a little too on the nuts. Uh, nose. It’s just such a specific sound. Songs that are super pop at their heart what with the off-kilter Rock-Si-Chord electric piano that sounds like a circus organ run through a distortion pedal hitting notes that are either right. Or just left of right. Paired with Coomes’ snotty lyrics and occasional Fred Schneider-like delivery and Weiss’ more angelic background harmonies. It sounds like a nightmare of a mess, I know. But it all somehow works together. Unless you hate it. Which I could totally see.

And, look, I hate The Doors. Not that Quasi are The Doors, but if you’re going to have keyboards doing both melodies and solos, you’re gonna bring up those comparisons. I admit it’s not a band or an album you’d want to listen to on repeat. It’s not… soothing. Things are a little loose. And sometimes feel a bit jokey. Even though I’m sure their politics — which the band doesn’t shy away from — are serious. But there is an element of circus to the record that is hard to argue against. A little bit of Internet troll meets carnival barker mashup. It’s just the nature of the band’s music and messaging. This is another decent addition to their oeuvre. I wouldn’t put it at the top. Or at the bottom. Let’s call it mid. But in the best possible way.