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Disclaimer | The Airbag's Lipstick Kiss

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The Airbag's Lipstick Kiss

by Disclaimer

Heartbroken nuggets of catchy, witty, eclectic indie-pop.
Genre: Rock: Lo-Fi
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Fixing a Hole
3:49 $0.99
2. God Said, Plastics!
3:15 $0.99
3. Vending Machine
1:28 $0.99
4. Like the Backside of a Bulimic's Teeth (#1: Bats = Bugs)
3:30 $0.99
5. You Ruined Everything
2:05 $0.99
6. Generic Shoulder Blade Tattoo
3:00 $0.99
7. Mufasa Kisses
2:59 $0.99
8. De Sitter Horizons
4:16 $0.99
9. Hell
3:45 $0.99
10. Wrong for the Right Reasons is Still Wrong
3:46 $0.99
11. Please Pardon Our Progress!!!
5:24 $0.99
12. (Untitled track)
4:13 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Unless you're Morrissey or a nun, you're going to get your heart broken some time. If you're paying attention, you learn a lesson or two. If you're focused, you might just take some of that anguish and make something beautiful out of it. Chris Willie Williams has done just that."
-Steve Knowlton, Steve & Abe's Record Reviews

In the tradition of great break-up albums like Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Beck's Sea Change, Sugar's Copper Blue, and Of Montreal's The Bedside Drama- A Petite Tragedy comes The Airbag's Lipstick Kiss, the first commercially available release from Detroit one-man band Disclaimer. After getting dumped in 2002, multi-instrumentalist Chris Willie Williams turned to his home studio to help him work through the difficult process of piecing his shattered life back together. ("Had I turned to a professional therapist instead, I probably could've saved myself about nine months of anguish and $800 or so that I spent on alcohol," Willie quips!) Willie's near-suicidal heartbreak is the indie-rock connoisseur's gain, however, because the 11 ruminations on loss that make up Airbag are bursting with enough naked emotion, eloquent observations, and dark humor to act as a catharsis to anyone who's ever loved and lost. Check out the frothing rebuke "You Ruined Everything," for example, which turns the comically blunt phrase "I got screwed" into a chillingly effective hook, or the whispered acoustic pop of "Generic Shoulder Blade Tattoo," whose delicacy is contrasted by truly twisted lyrics about realizing love is an illusion. Yes, all love.

Astonishingly, the music on Airbag matches the lyrics every step of the way. Mashing together elements of indie rock, electronica, funk, punk, new wave, and the music of suspicious non-America nations, Willie comes up with a sound unlike any other home-recording project you've ever heard. Harsh yet vulnerable, catchy yet wholly original, the album sustains a consistent, driving momentum, refusing to collapse into an inert heap even considering the bleakness of its subject matter. The songs have drawn comparisons to everyone from Radiohead to XTC to Kraftwerk, and Disclaimer's arrangements display not only an ear for unique sounds and chord progressions, but an attention to detail that lends every tune a different- yet always fully-realized- approach. (And listen for newcomer Joe Hinchcliffe contributing angelic vocals to the otherwise blistering noisefest "Please Pardon Our Progress!!!")

Disclaimer shanghais the listener on an intense, 40-minute journey to the depths of despair, rage, jealousy, hopelessness, confusion, unrelenting pain, and desperation that inevitably accompany a broken heart. But in a fun way.

The Airbag's Lipstick Kiss is available on Desiccant Records: Do Not Eat!



to write a review

Guy Peters

Jesus, what happened?
“Jesus, what happened?” was the only thought I could come up with when I’d listened to Disclaimer’s new album a few times. It’s not just that his first ‘official’ album is such a considerable improvement on Bombs by Night, Balloons by Morning, but I suppose it also reflected the state Willie was in when he recorded the album. The Airbag’s Lipstick Kiss is not only an album that exudes undiluted anger and bitterness - especially lyrically, although the music has become noticeably less frivolous as well -, but it also makes a point of dissecting its very essence in 11 chapters that leave nothing to the imagination, ranging from the confused (“Fixing a Hole”), to the spiteful (“You Ruined Everything”) and the completely disillusioned (“Please Pardon Our Progress”). It’s pretty obvious that what lies at the foundation of this depressing album is a broken relationship, and the way in which Willie refers to it is often spine-chillingly outspoken, as the sleeve-notes reveal a disheartening series of accusations (“You ruined everything, and you say the pain you’ve cause is ‘exhausting’ ”), pessimist thoughts (“ ‘Still friends’ works for you because we’re defined by distance, decorum and rules you’ve decided”), and sheer defeatism (“Happiness is no longer an option” is the album’s last ‘message’).

Fortunately (?), the whole mess instigated Willie to phrase it as truthfully and inventively as possible. Yes, “Vending Machine” is again one of his awkward metaphors, but it works here, as it seems to work throughout the course of the entire album. Randomly tossed sentences and references have made way for a much more focused, intriguing and merciless approach, with an uncompromising attitude you rarely encounter. One of the reasons why I waited so long to tackle this album was that it felt like looking at a huge, infected, open wound. I mean: “It’s like being punched in the face over and over and over and over. I wish we could be erased and taped over with porn, because my ears are gushing”, and continuing towards an obsession with decay in “so this is what it’s like to rot (like the backside of a bulimic’s teeth”) and self-destruction (“Watch yourself crash into things”), and I should poke in that? The pain was still fresh, the anger white-hot, and the person that’s constantly referred to (but never named) got one huge 40-minute beating. Not only the lyrics have ‘blossomed’, but also the music is much stronger than on the previous release. The production is still quite amateurish by major label-standards, but for my money, only a few minor details could’ve been better (the ‘rhythm section’ deserved to be pronounced a bit more a few times). As for the songs, they’re pretty consistent and most of ‘em would’ve been highlights on Bombs. From the use of vocoder during “Fixing a Hole” to the sometimes confusing/nauseating vocal harmonies of “Please Pardon Our Progress” (by Willie and Joe Hinchcliffe, whose soft, breathy voice was a great addition to the already terrific song), lyrics and music are suitably adjusted to each other. Feeling like a throwaway and having lost a sense of respect is translated into music by the use of voice manipulation, angular accents and sudden rhythmic shifts (making “God Said, ‘Plastics!’” sound like an early, robotic XTC-song) and elaborated distortion (into the short but memorable “Vending Machine”).

The conventional-sounding “Generic Shoulder Blade Tattoo” resembles Elliott Smith’s impeccably crafted and lushly embellished music (and I’m sucker for those vocals), while “Hell” announces itself as Disclaimer’s candidate for “Song of the Year.” With striking imagery (“Your name is stitched into my back, a rejection jersey I can’t get out of” – what a great find), hints of feedback throughout the song, and an uncomfortable vocal melody that’s both sinister and touching (check it out if you think it doesn’t make sense), it’s a song that reveals it’s qualities only after repeated listens. “Wrong for the Right Reasons Is Still Wrong” initially comes off as a novelty track that tries to reconcile Camper Van Beethoven’s silliness with They Might Be Giants’, uh, silliness, but the lyrics only speak of disappointment. In the meantime, we’ve also had “Bulimic’s Teeth,” which tries to hard to reconcile the wordy lyrics with the music and ends up sounding clumsy, and the quite directionless “Mufasa Kisses,” but they just can’t prevent Airbag from making a sizeable impact. After the uneven debut, I wished Willie a sophomore album that would contain the coherence and consistency his first effort seemed to lack and I got what I wanted, but did he? Probably not how he wanted. Maybe the things that have happened taught him how to separate the usable from the lesser ideas, but it’s a fact that this album is indeed – as Steve Knowlton in his surgically precise analysis of the album argues – his Sgt. Pepper’s as opposed to the charming but humble beginnings of Bombs (his Please Please Me). It’s still a bit too early to consider him the savior of rock ‘n’ roll or anything, but if he keeps progressing like this, God only knows what might happen. As long as things run a bit smoother for Willie, and I don’t have to feel like a voyeur each time, I’m already looking forward to the next chapter. Word, Willie!

Note: There’s a hidden track after the grand closing song, “I Couldn’t End It Here,” but it’s somewhat deserving of its bonus track-status.

Joel Larsie

pretty damn great
I can't but second everything Guy Peters already said in the review above...it's a touching, deep and melancholic record, yet it isn't too self-pitying or aggressive, as some other breakup records may be. Lyrics and music are perfectly balanced. Catchy songs which are all unique and sound different to each other, but it's still not too sprawling. There IS a lot of sprawl on here, but it's good sprawl.
Almost a five, actually...but I've got a feeling that this guy yet hasn't topped himself, so I'm saving the 5 for another record!

Tim Rimer

Quality indie music with a twist of Devo
It's impossible not to appreciate the little touches that Disclaimer adds to his album. Songs like Fixing a Hole and Backside of a Bulimic's Teeth contain quirky synth touches and cool little samples that punctuate the labored and surprisingly memorable melodies. They're the kind of additions that last less than a second in the actual songs, but leave the impression of being carefully selected, planned, and implemented in the midst of a long recording process. The end result is a fairly original sound and several songs that really stay with the listener. Disclaimer has found the perfect mix between the clever lyrical writing of XTC and haunting melodies of Radiohead, and his album is a must-have for anyone who loves music enough to let it break their heart.