Review: Sego – Once Was Lost Now Just Hanging Around

Remember when James Murphy disbanded LCD Soundsystem, even though that group was essentially just him anyway so he was effectively merely disbanding himself, and then he became a wine merchant or upmarket barista or whatever it was before quickly “reforming” LCD Soundsystem (i.e. basically reforming himself) so that he’d then be able to charge ten zillion dollars for a single Primavera headlining slot? That was a bit annoying, wasn’t it? Well, if you haven’t already sold your own granny for a couple of LCD Soundsystem tickets, you could do a lot worse than checking out Sego instead.

Okay, Sego aren’t identical to Murphy’s project but they’re in the same ballpark and for the time being you can find them in more intimate venues at much cheaper prices. They’ve also got youth on their side so they can probably get through a whole gig without panting like a beached seal in a sweaty too-tight suit (sorry, Murphy,we love you really).

The LA-based duo of Spencer Peterson and Thomas Carroll back their dude-drawl vocals with a seemingly effortless blend of indie-rock and electronica, like a Beck remix of one of those bands your mate told you sounded a lot like Pavement but on closer inspection actually don’t resemble Stephen Malkmus’ ramshackle crew all that much. Having said that, there is something of a carefree Malkmussy shuffle to the verses of ‘Fool Around’, although Saint Stephen would probably have given the track a more ambiguous chorus.

Pavement were often accused of being slackers, a term they both despised and denied. Sego, on the other hand, are at risk of playing up to their slacker image a little too much. To be fair, the distorted vocals and muggy backing squelches of ‘Day Job’ do indeed accurately replicate the dehumanising inconvenience of having to drag yourself out of the snug comfort of bed to plod reluctantly to some god-awful workplace you actively despise. On top of that, however, is the schoolyard poetry of ‘Micky Macali’. “If I had a swimming pool/ I’d let you dip your toes in it,” it goes, with fuzzy beats and Har Mar Superstar pseudo-sexiness, “if I had a 9 to 5 / I’d make some time and quit it”. The title track itself takes the template of Amazing Grace’s “I once was lost but now I’m found” and rewrites the second part as “…now I’m just hanging around”. It’s got a yearning melody, mind, and music that sounds like a thoughtful mash-up of Mac Demarco and Mr Oizo, so perhaps they’re not so idle after all. The lowest point is ‘Proper Noises’, a short sample of Sego shouting “oh yeah” like a couple of giggling stoners competing to see who can do the best impression of a redneck wrestler. No one needed to hear that.

Slacker clichés notwithstanding, ‘20 Years Tall’ might briefly break from its narrative to go “blah blah blah blah blah blah” but this cutesy lyrical laziness is compensated by its electrified anti-folkisms, propulsive krautrock bass and a chorus which resembles a tiny snippet of an old Strokes hit trying to crawl its way back to credibility.

Elsewhere, ‘Obscene Dream’ boasts flatulent glitches, funk-lite guitar, plenty of cowbell, disco shimmers and drawly vocals. ‘The Fringe’, meanwhile, evokes the disco-friendly art-rock of The Rapture while channelling Millennials’ ongoing disillusion with vacuous, youthful hedonism. “Everybody at this party is already over it”, they sing, as James Murphy himself might have done if he hadn’t been hogging the stereo with his Daft Punk CDs while letching over all the drunk girls, “everybody at this party is already moving on”. It’s a little like a homemade, house-party cousin of that Snakehips hook about how “I hate this club”. There’s even a skew-whiffvaguely R&B Snakehips vibe to the slow-dance number ‘Engineer Amnesia’, albeit articulated in a much more lo-fi style, with candidly amateurish guitar parts and toy-like Dan Friel-y electrics lurking in background.

If they carry on like this, it won’t be long before Sego are able to sell a decent number of records, disband themselves, reunite in a couple of years and then retire to the Bahamas. So long 9 to 5.

Written by JR Moores