Jonathan Rado: Law and Order
Madness slowing to a soft roll must leave your head a little dry, achy, your bones brittle. Like a hangover. One might think the now-simmering wake Foxygen slam-dunked this spring would leave one-half of the brains, Jonathan Rado, feeling spent, sleepy, in need of a long bath. But after a disco nap and a fresh stick of gum, his debut solo album, Law and Order, suggests he recovered like a champ.
It zooms across a massive smorgasbord of throwback influences. Rado nails his Kinks, Cash and “Kiss” odes, hissing new life with L.A. gravel and 23-year-old hypersexuality.
Law is the perfect Indian-summer morning garage sale soundtrack album. It follows the mood flow to a T.
“Seven Horses” sleepwalks you to the coffeepot; polyester synth guides your arms to stack extra T-shirts for sale since the air will soon be too cool.
Imagine you’re especially ambitious to let go of a lot of stuff, use the money for a new autumn sweater. You’re possibly a little drunk still. Bizarre, sweet duet “Hand In Mine” strums as your heart settles to a rest. You find a good lawn chair to station in the wet grass.
A hunter green pick-up jerks to a halt across the street. Your first customers. The haunting, panty-melter “Looking 4a Girl Like U” fuzzes out in a low, thick fog. It’s a hard-faced man in Levis, and he wants your beater rocking chair—but for half price. It’s busted, yeah, but sentimental. You refuse to let it go for less than $30. He leaves. There’s a desperation in this track, but dragging like a dull butcher knife in a million directions. (I don’t even want to know everything Rado howls here because the mystery helps make it.)
Upbeat “Dance Away Your Ego” and “I Wood” mark your first sales. You slacked on nostalgia and got real—it’s time to purge, make room to pull out all your quilts, wool socks, hats. Winter is coming, but not today. Not yet. “Faces” is your cocky strut around your emptying front yard. You might even ditch your Bowflex today, who knows? You’re slashing prices like a car salesman on FM!
“Oh, Suzanna!” means last night’s bourbon bash seeks a little revenge. The sun is hot now, higher. But you float on through the Eastern instrumentals, soft psychedelia. Friends stop by to check in—you give away a milk crate of LPs between them. Not just to clear out space, but because you know your thrifty neighbors wouldn’t fully get Return to Waterloo for 50 cents, but your pals will for free. That understanding is “All the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” It skates lazy and stoned across the fading cardboard sleeves, fingers stopping to trace familiar, famous curls, smiles.
A free-for-all drops when “I Wanna Feel It Now!!!” burps its first burst of cacophony. You’re handing out stuff now. A frenzy to clear space foggy-eyed. As it settles into a pretty organ fade-out, so do the shoppers. Traffic creeps to a slow trickle.
You crack a celebratory beer, it foams out a small rejoice in “Would You Always Be At Home?” The title track is sitting completely still in your vinyl perch, surveying the damage. At this point—about noon—it’s just you, your lukewarm coffee and drained can.
“Pot of Gold” jolts you upright, knocking overlooked Star Wars figurines back into shoeboxes. You made enough to cover a bar tab tonight and you got to make a few friends’ days—a few strangers’, too. Rado’s voice swings triumphantly like Luke Skywalker’s plastic, painted lightsaber. Your life didn’t change much, but you did have a an excellent Saturday morning.
And you’ll probably need those figurines again before next fall, anyway.