Kimya Dawson – Alphabutt

Band: Kimya Dawson
Album: Alphabutt
Genre: Childrens/Acoustic
Label: K

1. Little Monster Babies
2. Alphabutt
3. Bobby-O
4. Louie
5. Smoothie
6. I Like Bears
7. Seven Hungry Tigers
8. Happy Home
9. Wiggle My Tooth
10. I Love You Sweet Baby
11. Pee Pee in the Potty
12. Uncle Hukee’s House
13. We’re All Animals
14. Little Panda Bear
15. Sunbeams and Some Beans

Riding the wave of fame that came her way following the release of the film Juno acoustic songstress Kimya Dawson returns with her first full length album made entirely with children in mind. Alphabutt, which is due in store 9/9, is a collection of 15 songs Dawson [and friends] recorded to present to children. Now those of you who love her tongue twisting word usage and quick strumming shouldn’t be worried as both elements are still found here. However, instead of twisting tales of youth, love, and the evil inside her mother’s illness, Dawson turns her focus to stories about the bathroom, sing alongs with little to no point, and talk of teeth, young childhood, etc. It’s been quite difficult to think of a way to review this album as stamping a childrens disc from a critical standpoint seems almost impossible as the writing and everything is obviously simplified. Though, I just couldn’t let a disc by such a talented artist go by without comment, so let’s see what we can take from this album.

As far as songs, writing, and music goes, Alphabutt is a bit scattered. Dawson’s acoustic work is still as spectacular as ever. It honestly makes my hands hurt even attempting to play with the flair she uses in every single song. Other instruments appearing on the disc vary from some light acoustic work, to drums, to the clamor of bells and various additional percussion. Everything has a very open air feel to it and so the music only fits the mood. Vocally, Dawson’s voice works quite well being soothing and informative in her own indie kind of way. However, to keep with the little kids theme, Dawson uses children’s voices for gang vocals and random sounds which gets really old. I mean, I get it, little kids are cute, but after awhile, enough is enough. The excitement of her other albums when others joined in just feels a bit flooded with all the extra instrumentation and sounds. It just becomes a bit blurry sound wise and that hurts the album as a whole I feel. Though, Dawson’s wit and lyrical skill makes up for these vocal downfalls quite a bit. References to Fabio and using the alphabet to discuss bathroom behavior of animals is something only Kimya would think to do and she does it quite well. I mean, it’s obvious from the title that the album talks about butts, peeing, pooping, etc, but it does get a bit overboard on those subjects. Though there are other simple sing alongs that I think could become staples in the genre.

Outside of the music on the disc, the production is one that really interested me. Much like her previous releases, this album has a very live recording feel to it. Most noticeably, on “Little Monster Babies,” you can hear small children, crashing wooden blocks, and other sounds that create the feel of Kimya performing in the midst of a circle of distracted youth. It really sets a mood for the record that I’m sure carries quite smoothly into the live realm. Dawson’s voice is generally perfect on levels, but all additional vocalists feel a bit softer than they should be when they stand on their own. Though, since everything else has a very loose and free feel, maybe that’s just how it’s suppose to be.

Unless you have very small children or are a die hard fan of Kimya Dawson, you can probably pass on Alphabutt. this isn’t an album looking for a Grammy or to keep the teens of America in her palms, but rather an album made out of love of small children and a desire to entertain them. Dawson’s writing continues to shine, but I think excretion and urination references get old for anyone at some point and this album never ceases to slap them on thickly. Also, the structures get a bit too wobbly to simply be cute at times. However, kids won’t notice any on of that, nor would they care. The question is whether or not children will love it and I truly think they might. I would hope any child would eat this album like candy, but there’s bound to be some parents and children who prefer more stock major label garbage. If you want your infant to be a unique indie rebel as soon as they can talk, this is that album. If you enjoyed anything Dawson has done before, check this out, but be warned, it’s meant for very small children and as a result, it’s a bit simplified. It takes a lot to make such a simple genre intriguing, but Dawson, as always, doesn’t let us down.

*Written By: James Shotwell*
GRADE: 6.5/10

James Shotwell
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