this week for the weekly review, i’m taking a look at Tim Heidecker’s 2020 record, Fear of Death.

before we start i do wanna give some context on where i was coming from and how my process with this record shifted as i listened a few times. i’m no stranger to Tim Heidecker – i know him best from his work with Eric Wareheim, but i’ve seen a variety of his other work, including his comedy special An Evening With Tim Heidecker. i am certain i was aware he made music – i remember his cover of Paul Simon’s I Am a Rock, I Am a Cuck – but i definitely went into this expected something closer to that, yknow, comedy music. i definitely spent a bit of time once that expectation was broken trying to figure out if it was closer to his special (in his stand up special he plays a hack comedian), before finally settling into the pleasant realization that this is just Heidecker making music genuinely (not to say that there aren’t funny moments on the record). let’s dig into the tracklist!

alrighty, Fear of Death kicks off with Prelude to Feeling, a really pleasant and melodic track that provides a meta introduction to the record. it reminds me a lot of Big D and the Kids Table’s Sounds of Allston Village, which cuts some dialogue samples to provide a similar kinda commentary. Come Away With Me is just infectiously bright. what a delightful track to listen to. i think my thoughts that this might be parody came from this track and the next – and components of this are certainly humorous in its relentless optimism – but nah this feels p authentic, haha. Backwards warns of a backslide happening in America, and its rambling rhythm gives a nice space for Heidecker’s lyrics. solid for sure. the title track Fear of Death contrasts it’s brighter musical tone with some incredibly grim lyrics about stagnation and the way mortality shapes our growth (or lack of it). Someone Who Can Handle You is a moving breakup track, about someone at the end of their proverbial rope. Nothing is a grim confrontation of death, with some excellent piano work, giving me some real good Elton John vibes. Say Yes is a darker track, a quieter plea for love. v good. Property is hilarious, a track about the relentless and unsustainable hunger of capitalism and the need for endless growth and expansion, over a musing about whether we’ll have enough non-rent generating property to have cemeteries in the future. good track. Little Lamb is an interesting song. my gut reaction was to read it as a breakup, in which case its kinda condescending, but i think within the record it fits more of a farewell near the end of a life. the Let It Be cover is p good, but i don’t feel super strongly about it either way. neat take. Long As I’ve Got You is real funny, coming a track or two after Little Lamb, haha. i really dig this one. Oh How We Drift Away has Weyes Blood, who has been providing backing vocals for the whole record, take center stage for a stirring finale. and extremely moving track, and a fitting closer to the record.

faves – Prelude to Feeling, Come Away With Me, Fear of Death, Property, Long As I’ve Got You
dislikes –

musically, i really enjoyed this. harkening back to 70s rock and folk (a period i am aware of through exposure but not study, the kind of familiarity you know when you hear but cant name), there are some fantastic musical performances on this record. so much of this record makes me think of a grainy recording of a sunlit meadow. it’s goddamn pastoral in places. extremely pleasant listen.

and lyrically, there’s a ton of depth here! i personally think i enjoyed it most at its funniest, but tracks like Nothing and Oh How We Drift Away reflect a very serious tackling of deep subjects. i wager from a bit of reading on this that a lot of these themes and topics were kind of stewing for a while, but it would be wild to ignore that this record released six months into the Covid lockdowns – death and mortality being very much on folks’ minds and a record like this being incredibly topical.

on the whole, a very very nice listen, and v good, complete package.

Fear of Death – 8/10

the winner of this week’s suggestion pool is The Don, a 2018 record from Donny Benét. i’ll be back next Friday, June 24th for a review, and in the meantime, let me know what album you’d like me to review! (i pool all suggestions in one place, and draw a person, then a pick from that person, so feel free to drop as many as you’d like! if you leave an email or username i’ll contact you when i’ve gotten through all your suggestions.)