With the usual lack of fanfare, and unseemly scramble to get everything finished, Front End Loader present album no. 6, Ritardando. Why Ritardando, and what is the relevance of the term to Front End Loader? It derives from its three component parts: ‘Rit’, a corruption of ‘writ’, representing legal threats for repayment of monies; ‘Ar’, representing the many benefits piracy has brought music lovers; and ‘Dando’, meaning a public, precipitous and humiliating fall from grace. Others might argue that the outdated, archaic interpretation of Ritardando as a musical term meaning ‘slow down’ is more relevant to Front End Loader, but they would be cruel, if correct.
The album itself is alright, given that it has the wrong songs on it, and that they’re in the wrong order. The drawings on it are well-executed, and perhaps amusing if you know the people involved. It has been manufactured using high-quality cardboard and plastic products for your tactile pleasure. Ritardando should feel solid in the hand, the printing ink shouldn’t smudge your new off-white slacks, and the disc should be nicely weighted for alternative uses such as frisbee, throwing star or drink coaster.
As for the songs, the end bit of ‘But Before I Do’ is quite good, and ‘Decisions, Decisions, Decisions’ has some nice singing on it by someone not in the band. ‘Bring It On’ is the requisite slow song, and contains offensive language; ‘Lilywhite’ is the requisite ‘please play us on your radio station’ song; ‘The Duality of Man’ is not about the duality of man, and starts well before becoming pretty good near the end; and you can dance to ‘I Like to Help Out Where I Can’, if you’re into that kind of thing. Of the others, ‘Standards’ is actually quite a good song; ‘My Other Pants’ has a funny title and a shuffle chorus; ‘Tool for a Tool’ has falsetto backing vocals; and you can grasp your goblet with intensity while emoting along to ‘The Anger Dollar’.
If you’ve been looking forward to this album, you might want to ration your listening to, say, two or three songs per year, in order to keep it fresh during the seven years until the next album. Then again, if enough people buy Ritardando, we might be encouraged to make another one sooner, greed being a powerful motivating force. You could consider buying several copies, perhaps as gifts for people you don’t much care for, or see above for alternative uses for compact discs.