Snarly and snotty and yet still good-natured, “Let Them All Talk” is a speak-singing throwback to some earlier, more primal kind of rock’n’roll. I’m not sure I normally like this kind of thing—whatever “kind of thing” this in fact is—but I am won over by front man Brian Karscig’s unerring musical instincts. Even while sort-of-talking it’s clear that he has a fine singing voice, and even as the song sounds simple, the arrangement is inventive and the band ever so tight. I love in particular the peculiar, background guitar solos (0:57 and 2:12) and the perfect finishing touch of the female background singers who begin chiming in with fills of “Oooo! Jealous!” at 3:01.
On the one hand a poison pen letter to music critics, “Let Them All Talk” is at the same time a kind of self send-up, which makes the whole thing more delightful than it otherwise might be. I don’t know if there’s any effective way for a rock singer to take a straight potshot at critics without sounding like a whiner; Karscig avoids that with his goofy bravado, which winks while it chastises, and includes some actual flak he himself has received (e.g. “sounds like a girl when he sings,” a charge sometimes leveled at him while in the band Louis XIV). In the process he comes across as both serious and jokey, which, in a meta kind of way, allows him all the better to get some good digs in (e.g., “You act like a rock star/But all you play is your pen, and your mouth”). The best way to act like a tough guy in our post-ironic age is to make fun of acting like a tough guy.
Karscig played with the relatively successful Louis XIV (2003-2009), which released two of its three albums on Atlantic Records, and made appearances on late-night TV in the U.S. The Nervous Wreckords were started in the wake of Louis XIV’s dissolution in 2009. In addition to playing guitar and singing, Karscig has worked increasingly often as a producer. “Let Them All Talk” is the title track to the second Nervous Wreckords album, which was recorded in Karscig’s home studio on a vintage Neve board with ’60s and ’70s gear. This will be the band’s first national release, slated to arrive in September via Knitting Factory Management. MP3 courtesy of the fine folks at Magnet Magazine.