Now I'm not entirely certain, but I'm pretty sure that theb igno oneun derst and sme is latin for "the big no one understands me," the title of the debut album by local lovelies thelittlestillnotbigenough (read: the little still not big enough, or, individuals that have yet to reach a height necessary to do certain grown-up things, e.g. grab things off the top shelf, stand in the deep end of the pool or ride the roller coasters at Magic Mountain). Available free of charge wherever local records may be found, one may immediately notice that it's great, sure, but it's more than that. As a self-produced, released, and distributed album without any formal press or widespread recognition, it's a DIY project that is in fact absolutely amazing. By way of living-room recording sessions from Woodland to Arcata, the mellifluous harmonies, unique composition and seamless production and mastering come together as an album entirely poetic, wholly insightful and hellishly absurd.
Lyrically, Philip Kumsar is responsible for making thebignoone one of the wittiest and literate albums I've heard, every track suffused with subtle advice and satirical commentary that should be common knowledge but somehow isn't. But beyond the humor there's a certain beauty to the words, as each song explores a private world shaped by love, violence, childhood, family and America with a refreshingly unconventional approach.
The album relies on a variety of audio samples to transition from song to song, variously listed in the insert as children playing soccer, Woodstock crowd or fingernails on Casio keyboard. In the case of "All the Coffins Float in New Orleans," a lengthy sample of a philosophical lecture on ennui, solitude and other existential definitions serves as an introduction to Kumsar's own elaboration, "All the truths come with the mourning / and the weather ain't about to change / so you pray for rain / to wash these plagues away." As the professor concludes at the end of the track, "It's always your existence that you must bear and nobody can bear it for you," the impression is clear: Damn, these fools are deep.
Backed by a flurry of instruments ranging from tape loops and kalimba to organ and "smashing the high-hat in fast forward," each track, as orchestrated by Steven Clark and Kumsar, is crowded and layered without succumbing to messiness, while remaining both friendly and approachable. Snobbish individuals could draw comparisons to the work of indie-mainstays such as Animal Collective or The Books, but that would undermine the fact that both live and recorded, tlsnbe sound largely unlike anything else currently on the market. A promising advantage.