Album Review: Art Vandelay They've Got My Number Down at the Post Office

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The guy Ricky Pharoe, a wonky Seattle MC whose style and voice land him somewhere between Aesop Rock and Slug, just released a remaster of his Art Vandelay ("he's an importer/exporter") project, entitled They've Got My Number Down at the Post Office (listen for free!), which was brilliantly produced by his bud Mack Formway. Originally released this past June, the remaster is just a few simple tweaks apart from the original, but since we didn't get to it originally, this is a good time to talk about it, because it deserves proper props.

Formway's production on the opening track "Slept In" conjures Cannibal Ox's (El-P's) "Iron Galaxy" or, more locally, Taco Neck's (PeGee13's) "I Heart U.S.A." with its dreamy, dumb fade-in that is grounded with a crossfade twitch before the beat thumps in. The production as a whole is pretty heavy: lots of feedback (on what occasionally sounds like live guitars/keys), filter treatment, and bassy currents tugging at the rug underneath the hard-hitting drums. From a production standpoint, it's among the most thoughtful albums I've heard locally in years, and it creates a perfectly unsettling dreamworld for Pharoe's deranged verses.

His lyrics focus mainly on social criticism: In Pharoe's opinion (and mine), there are far too many people out there making half-assed attempts at whatever it is they do, or falling back on a subpar collection of skills to be content with the general outcome, and in Pharoe's world, it's worth a constant reminder. Whether it's those at the pinnacle of the political shitpile, you sitting on the couch, or the world's massive legion of lazy MCs, you should check yourself, for all of us really. He's opinionated, but it's his rich tenor, natural knack for cadence, and thought-provoking songwriting that make him a winner, whether he would ever admit it or not.

Catching up on other Pharoe news, he apparently released a mixtape (also in June) called Sex With Myself, which is just him rapping over other rapper's indie beats (tracks are renamed things like "I Had Nothing Better to Do" and "I Had Something Better to Do But I Did This", so yeah), but you get trademark Pharoeisms like "Most people never pee the bed, but I still do," and "Clinically, I got the brain of a centipede." What?! We like Ricky Pharoe.


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