Unexpected combinations of seemingly disparate ingredients can yield delicious results. Have you ever had a bacon brownie? It’s heaven. How about a nutella tuna fish sandwich? Not so much. “Coconut,” the new album from the experimental rock/blues/indie/punk trio Archie Bronson Outfit, is a series of mad experiments in the sound kitchen. Occasionally unlistenable, fleetingly brilliant and always strangely and interestingly derivative, the album is worthy of a listen, if not immediate admiration.
The Outfit’s approach to composition is suspect. There are times when the band seems to be using the “see what sticks” method of homage and refiguring and others when their choices of combinations appears astute and refreshing. At the very least, each track is an adventure, a kind of “spot the influences” game from one moment to the next. On “Wild Strawberries,” the band fades from an introduction reminiscent of Beck’s “Beercan” into a blaring frenzy of grunge, Ramones-style punk and hardcore metal. In “Chunk,” there are riffs reminiscent of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and aspirations to David Byrne-esque vocalization.
But with all due respect to the trio, nobody is David Byrne and nobody is Bowie. More often than not, the songs on “Coconut” become incoherent orgies of noise that drown themselves out. There are overdriven synthesizers and guitars distorted to the point of meaninglessness, layer upon layer of confusion that amount to cacophony and not much else. The orchestrations become so overblown at times that the vocals, already fuzzy, become incomprehensible.
“Coconut” suffers from an overabundance of enthusiasm and a frustrating lack of restraint. You can tell that these guys are ecstatic about the genres they are borrowing from, but they never develop a clear channel for that ecstasy. As a result, the album doesn’t come close to reaching its potential. It vacillates between opposing tones, styles and geographic regions, but you get the impression that in that giant mess of a distraction, it never finds a place for itself.