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C is for "Continue Condescending, Please" on New Puscifer Track for American Psycho Comics

Remember when Puscifer was mostly fun, freshly irreverent, and sometimes surprisingly soulful? Maybe you don't. I remember the misleading simplicity of the guitar lick that opened "Momma Sed" before the song's layers churned and deepened into a kind of Charybdis that carried me, submerged in a comfort with changes that inevitably come, before all too suddenly crushing my skull on the bottom of its sea. And I remember the relentless slapstick fuckery of the "Cuntry Boner" remixes, so that I now can hardly stifle a chuckle when my boyfriend tries to weave for me the sad story of the Judds. Even on "The Undertaker (Renholder Mix)"—a track that helped helm that nu-metal wannabe-nail-coffin soundtrack for 2006's Underworld: Evolution—Maynard James Keenan made his hallmark come-to-Jesus patronizing marry the rather disarming mixture of a bouncy rhythm section and a cooing vocal chirp in the verse (do doo dooo might be the best approximation). The thesis of the project's 2007 debut Don't Shoot the Messenger EP might have been no message at all except sultry proposition and industrial hangover's dissolution. None taken too seriously (with forthcoming features from the likes of video game-adaptation avatar Milla Jovovich) but taken with some psychedelia and ubiquitous references to sex acts and organs—the latter just to drive home all that you and your high-mileage high school rumor mill had come to associate with the band names Tool and A Perfect Circle.

This isn't a submission of yet another gripe that a 20-year-old band's sound has evolved past one listener's initial attachments, opined on the basis of a four-minute-long new release. Puscifer's "The Algorithm" may just suffer the enervated aspirations of its muse, Sumerian Comics's American Psycho series. To be fair, it has to be difficult for a bunch of men to keep mining anything but rust and self-righteousness from the consumerist commentary in Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner's 2000 film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 yuppie culture satire. The last thirty years of late capitalist (anti-)social contempt have certainly engendered in public consciousness some cynicisms that even hot, white, wealthy serial killers butchering their tax bracket with impunity can no longer intimidate. We have news from Capitol Hill now and none from the UN. We have Scream 4, The Purges, and Joker: Folie à Deux. FX's Atlanta has aired entire seasons that comically meditate on the mixed psychoses of market-ready musicianship and social media absorption. As for revisiting millennial techno-decadence with mimetic boredom, we have HEALTH—who understand that you can't manipulate a meta-meme when looking down your nose at it, and who do it reasonably well.

At the risk of raising an asinine question—because how can anyone ever have approached Funkadelic's Maggot Brain with "who needs this shit?"—well? It's enough that Maynard assumes the royal we, as though the empathetic position of the first person plural is at all convincing here, recycling clichés of medieval servitude via Game of Thrones script conceits, and deifying the song's ever-elusive namesake. It's enough that this representative point of view sees us "go around in circles" while itself repeating the point infernally—nah, what's the adverb form of limbo?—and condemning us with uncool epithets such as "doom scroll junkies" and "social mediots" in refrains that are more belches than bridges. Thanks, dad. It's enough that the song is maybe too reminiscent of Puscifer's more structurally interesting and restless "The Remedy," a track from 2015's Money Shot that brattishly lyricizes yes, we're being condescending / yes, that means we're talking down to you … we assumed you didn't notice. It's enough that the president of Sumerian Comics has apparently called "The Algorithm" an "original song" that "brings an intensity and depth to the narrative, elevating the experience for fans and readers alike." That's enough. We get it; we attention addicts don't deserve originality or even fan service that's actually serviceable. But, like, maybe lighten up, Francis? Because here's a couple of things one could assume we've noticed: (1) Maynard makes wine. (2) The Sideways novel-to-movie-to-musical pipeline could presumably make engaging use of a Puscifer soundtrack, and there are guaranteed novelty points there.