Credit: Fearless Records
This story was originally published in the third edition of The Lion’s Tale (December 9, 2020).
Following the 80s synth-pop and alternative rock explored on the band’s debut EP 1981 Extended Play, I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME’s first official album, Razzmatazz, acts as the explosive first chapter for a band that has been burning with talent and potential from it’s prologue to even before it’s inception.
Released on October 23rd, 2020, Razzmatazz wears it’s blazing brilliance on it’s sleeve, especially from the start of it’s first track: “Leave Me Alone”. The opening song introduces listeners to the sinful and infectious fire that is Dallon Weekes’ fervid vocals and Ryan Seaman’s chaotically gorgeous syncopation and powerful drumming; intermixed with the red and pungent sharpness of Weeke’s guitar mastery and the hypnotic 80s and 70s synths, a complex additional layer which adds so much flavor and multi-colored energy to the album.
Jumping from song to song, Razzmatazz explores Weekes’ deep frustration with the music industry and life in Hollywood – such as in the track “Mad IQs” – and the complicated love life of the band’s frontman. Songs like “From The Gallows” shows the morbid and twisted nature of “Misguided infatuation mistaken for love.”, as explained by Weekes in a Twitter Q&A. Likewise, a similar concept is delved into with the track “Clusterhug.” A glorious orchestral explosion of music, spurring white and gold with noise. “Clusterhug” is a strange love song – most likely stemmed from failed past relationships – which tells of love now tainted through insecurity and fear, intermingled with a sense of invincibility even through blatant flaws. Weekes allusion to this girl as a “holy quarantine” implies the security and safety he finds in this bizarre relationship the two of them are in, but this love – possibly misplaced or premature – has isolated him from life, and now he’s trapped in the flurry of emotions, positive and toxic.
All is not baleful or contaminated in Razzmatazz though. Tracks like “Kiss Goodnight” and “Need You Here” shift away from the sinister atmosphere, instead focusing on the brighter and happier half of love. “Kiss Goodnight” is a sweetly soft spiral regarding Weekes’ wife Breezy Douglas; intermingled with references to previous love songs he’s written for her and moments during their pre-marriage relationship – such as when Weekes and his previous band – The Brobecks – stayed over at her house after a show. While his bandmates killed time by looking through books, Weekes and Douglas talked through the night. This is all alluded to through the verse “Should you invite me in to spend the night on the floor. Oh please believe I’ll be a gentleman or you can show me the door. While all my friends and I leaf through the books on your shelf. Now I don’t want to spend my life with anyone else.” Meanwhile, “Need You Here” – an adorable duet between Weekes and his daughter Amelie – depicts the love the lead singer carries for his two children even through the pain of being away on tour. So stems the repeated lines “I need you here”, a phrase emphasized by both Weekes – regarding wanting his family with him while he plays around the country – and his daughter – regarding wanting her dad back home to be with her and the rest of the family.
iDKHOW is an amalgamation of a band, it’s discography stemming from originals written all the way back in Weekes’ Panic! At The Disco days, to his time with the power pop band The Brobecks, to now. That is not to say the album and the band’s work as a whole is messy or incohesive, quite the opposite; iDKHOW is a ferocious and beautiful two-piece band with incredible amounts of talent brimming from the lid, and Razzmatazz is just the first course in this incandescent meal of zealous and ear-catching arsonry called alternative rock. For anyone looking to have fun with a new wave and pop rock album rich with spicy hints of P!ATD’s glory days and vivacious tunes bound to get one jumping around their room, Razzmatazz is an eruptive and red-hot, kaleidoscopic bombshell of an album not worth the pass.