Album Review: “BURN PYGMALION​!​!​! A Better Guide to Romance”

BURN PYGMALION​!​!​! A Better Guide to Romance, The Scary Jokes’ third album, is a brilliant dive into the emotional complications of romantic relationships told through a miasma of electronic indie sound. 

This album acts as a concept album, following an entertainment journalist named Jeanine reflecting on her relationship with her girlfriend Sylvia, a movie star. This arises when Sylvia goes overseas to film a movie and Jeanine is asked to house sit while she’s gone. In Sylvia’s absence, Jeanine finds herself questioning every aspect of her relationship. Examples include the third track, “Do You Believe Me”, in which Jeanine feels scared of the intensity of her love for Sylvia. Or the track “Jeanine”, in which Sylvia reflects on Jeanine not being able to fully open up due to past relationship traumas. These fears and anxieties build and build throughout the album, culminating into “Crushed out on Soda Beach”, in which Jeanine attempts to break up with Sylvia when she returns, only to realize that she has let these negative emotions control her. She decides to stay with Sylvia and begins to learn how to love her in a healthy way. This track is an absolute tear-jerker, hitting the listener to their core. However, my personal favorite is the final track, “Bets Against the Void”. This song acts as the epilogue, in which Jeanine is taking her life one day at a time, knowing that it could get worse or better. But today is good, and that’s all that matters. The lyrics in each song are truly genuine, feeling like they come from a real place. It is rare to find a truly authentic story about a lesbian relationship. However, The Scary Jokes achieves this feat by writing both characters as real human beings with flaws, yet still meaning well. This lets the story feel real and relatable to the viewer.

The music itself is nothing to ignore, either. The Scary Jokes has a very distinct indie sound, and this album is a perfect introduction into that sound. The heavy use of synths does not try to hide itself, being confident in its offbeat electronic sound. Liz Lehman’s vocals are haunting in some tracks, while feeling nostalgic in others. “Starstruck” is a highlight of the album, being a very upbeat yet quirky song, breaking up the psychedelic feeling songs before and after. The opener for the album , “Community Gardens” is another highlight, acting as a sort of overture for the album’s themes and sound. This track also features Louie Zong, who is an incredible musician. If you enjoy the work of Louie Song or Jack Stauber, you are sure to enjoy this album.

Overall, the album is one of my absolute favorites, not compromising subject matter or music quality at any level. If you are a fan of indie music and are looking for something new, I could not recommend this album more.