One of my favorite annual traditions is writing retrospective pieces about the year (or decade) in music. And then, as soon as I publish my vast and all-encompassing thoughts about dozens of albums, I find a great new piece of music from that year that I’ve never heard before. And which I, therefore, haven’t written about.
Only three days after the final piece of my 2020 coverage went up, a friend suggested that I check out pop duo I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME (often stylized as iDKHOW) who had released their debut LP, RAZZMATAZZ, in late October. (These dudes love the ALL CAPS look.) As quickly as the album starts echoing David Bowie’s “Fame,” which is to say immediately, I was hooked.
It’s possible that there’s not a single original moment on RAZZMATAZZ and yet, as I’ve said before, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Aside from aping Bowie, the album’s production and vocals brought to mind Muse, The Dear Hunter, Panic! At the Disco and disbanded indie outfit The Brobecks. Those final two proved to be more accurate than I ever would have guessed: iDKHOW is led by Dallon Weekes, who played in Panic! for the better part of a decade. The band’s other member, Ryan Seaman, played with Weekes in the The Brobecks.
RAZZMATAZZ is full of energetic electropop and Weekes’ histrionic vocal performances. It’s great. Songs like “Leave Me Alone” and “From the Gallows” totally slap, “Nobody Likes the Opening Band” is both pretty and hilariously accurate, while the title track finale closes the album with exquisite style, pulling together all the best parts of what’s come before.
I didn’t find RAZZMATAZZ in time to write about it in 2020 but it’s one of the year’s best albums and one that’s worth checking out even in 2021.