ID is the most recent effort from Pittsburgh’s Chris Laufman, perhaps more widely acknowledged as the recording artist Wise Blood. Laufman is, for all intents and purposes, a beatmaker, sampling what seems to be thousands of sound clips from an eclectic range of artists. He manipulates them until they are miles removed from the original: essentially a musical Frankenstein’s Monster, sewn together in ways that make one wonder whether or not it’s playing God or just artistic ingenuity. There are arguments for both, of course.
Wise Blood’s end result is a varied, layered and entirely controlled pop record that serves as a snapshot of Laufman, existing in a swirl of modern luxury and discontent, his own vices and his own perception of himself. ID offers a foray into Laufman’s mind: shamelessly quirky and often tongue-in-cheek, yet entirely self-aware and overall sincere. Not only does the listener get a glimpse into the inner workings of the artist, but they are even further included in the joke, more than likely totally identifying with the subject matter. Regrets about the last few nights at the bar, a love song to the Target franchise and a list of things he wishes his friends could be make ID an almost classic testament to the love-hate relationship that young people have with youth culture.
Completely embracing that love-hate relationship, Wise Blood creates an entirely fresh sounding alternative to the blanket “indie pop” term that tends to be thrown around so haphazardly. ID is a pop record for people that don’t like pop music. Samples from everywhere under the sun are thrown into the mix and flawlessly strung together, driving forward Laufman’s vocal work and lyricism. His slightly self-deprecating, yet confident tendencies channel a Yoni Wolf-like persona; dripping with what prove to be complex array of emotions mixed with external factors and some element of existential woe. Laufman takes care to throw some humor into the mix as well, as if to make listening less like a visit to the shrink and more like exchanging grievances with a friend over coffee. The instrumental “8 P.M. – 10 P.M.” and “11 P.M. – 1 A.M.” act as wordless vehicles to the same end, in that one can almost imagine Laufman sitting at his computer in sweatpants for the hours indicated tweaking his tracks.
ID comes forth at face-value without compromising even a single bit. It has the ability to assert itself as having this sort of self-evident clout. The record itself has an attitude, an air about it the demands attention. Chris Laufman has been quoted as saying “I want to sign a big contract and take over pop music.” If ID is any indication, he probably can.