If Brett Green’s approach to lyricism were any more tongue-in-cheek, he’d choke himself out. And he’d probably like it.
“If comedy is tragedy plus time, then one day this will be the funniest thing I have ever seen,” Green sings in the demi-title track to “This Is the Last Time Every Time,” the latest full-length from his band, The Mineral Girls based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Not to be confused with the actual title track, “This is the Last Time Every Time” (doing things halfway begins to feel like a calling card), “This is the Last Time” nears seven minutes of looping electric guitar cascades before, perhaps surprisingly, the song actually makes something of itself in a hard-earned climax.
While the project originally served as an outlet for Green’s lo-fi solo work, “This Is the Last Time Every Time” marks The Mineral Girls’ first full-length recorded in a professional studio. Kris Hilbert, of Greensboro’s Legitimate Business produced the full-length, a complementary pairing first established on The Mineral Girls’ 2016 EP, “Seven Inches of Release.” Hilbert’s production is polished yet splashy, providing as organized a backdrop as possible for The Mineral Girls’ signature cocktail of raucous crash cymbals and hard-panned, weaving distorted guitars (it’d probably be more like rum and Capri Sun in a water bottle or something, but more on that later).
Self-targeting jokes and apparent well-intentioned (and likely well-placed?) concern aside, Green’s lyrics etch the vignette of a man doing battle with his own insides, forcing a reckoning with the person he is to become or eventually undo. Whether admitting to drinking rum on the job in “Police Chief’s Niece,” struggling to come to terms with body image in “This Is the Only Way to Live” or wishing similar hell on Donald Trump and a babysitter that molested him as a child on “Let’s Take Medicine,” Green’s almost discomforting candor sets this record apart from the slew of contemporary songwriters that would eagerly self-describe their penmanship as “confessional.” Maybe he’s getting better, maybe he’s not—“the grass is always greener or some shit.”Video by Audrey Ayers.
Green’s vocal delivery aptly fits his songwriting. He often tends to deploy longer, drawn-out stanzas lazily stretched over his somehow still anguished vocal cords. At other times, Green’s singing borders on the kind of barely distinguishable muttering you’d expect from a guy, who frequently ends declaratory statements in “man,” claiming to have seen God while drunk in Connecticut.
Clocking in at 42 minutes across nine songs, “This Is the Last Time Every Time” is a cohesive yet musically diverse product. Ideas flow smoothly into each other, but never drift in the direction of monotony or redundancy.
While The Mineral Girls may be Green’s project, the band’s instrumental performances flatter the songwriting and the captured musicianship is distinctly stylized throughout the record. Wiry lead guitar parts are coordinated and carefully deployed, but still flashy and attention grabbing at the right times. Rhythm guitar parts alternate between nimble picking riffs and wide-open distorted chords. The drumming is authoritative and expressive, but never takes away from the songs themselves, instead syncopating with bass and rhythm guitar parts, guiding the momentum of the compositions.
The album’s proper title track features a minimalist arrangement of acoustic guitar over a toy keyboard’s percussion loop before yielding to a “spoken word” portion delivered by none other than Microsoft Sam (or maybe one of his drinking buddies). The song crawls back into motion with a spaciously recorded acoustic piano and that same damn percussion loop underneath a refrain of the song (and album’s) title lyric. On some albums, the title track “This Is the Last Time Every Time” would have been a near perfect closer, but Green doesn’t necessarily seem to care about the normal listener’s expectations (as evinced by whatever the hell happens around the halfway mark of “The Bruise on We” or the three seconds of bongo drums kicking off “Bridge Over What”).
For some, listening to the record could be as therapeutic and gratifying as one would hope making it was for Green. For others, “This Is the Last Time Every Time” could be an unwanted stare into a cracked and dusty mirror. Either way, the record deserves listens and who are you to deprive it? “This Is the Last Time Every Time” is available on cassette via Slow Fires Records and CD via Self-Aware Records.
Photo taken at JCPenney Portrait Studios, Carolina Place Mall.