Upon receiving my assignment to review an album entitled Sesame Streetcar Named Disaster I immediately found myself with an overpoweringly negative bias. I typically don’t mind bands trying to be witty within their work, but something about Milk Carton Superhero’s inclusion of my favorite childhood show Sesame Street left a bad taste in my mouth, much like how I felt after seeing Sesame Street Corruptions for the first time. The cover art features a forlorn Big Bird with an acoustic guitar leaning on a street corner, seemingly contemplating the meaninglessness of life, as a literal street car named “Disaster” begrudgingly mopes by. I’m sure there’s some sort of humor within this whole ensemble, but once the CD is opened and the actual members of Milk Carton Superstars are exposed, the band photos are even more uncomfortable. It could just be my lack of years and my affinity for younger, fresher music, but the men making up the band look like sad, old dads who’ve started to dabble in steampunk as a way to make their band seem more “relevant.”
When I finally dove into the music my negative premonitions about the record were not far from what I experienced. The music sounds as if Collective Soul hired Chris Daughtry to make a record that was not relevant to any time period, idea, or feeling. The music is vaguely out of the mid to late 90s era by taking obvious notes from bands like Semisonic, the Gin Blossoms, and other alternative rock bands who were frozen in time during the mid-nineties. However, the Milk Carton Superstars take it a step further and add underdeveloped vocals on top of their overused guitar riffs, thus creating a sound that seems to transport the listener to a sad bar in some sort of backward city where one would be surrounded by middle aged men who smell of beer and sweat.
The feeling that the Milk Carton Superstars seem to be conveying is confusing to say the least. It’s hard to tell if they are they are being completely serious in their lyrics or have created a satirical persona, a la Tenacious D or Spinal Tap, in turn rendering all their lyrics a joke. A telling example as to why this record seems like a farce comes at the beginning of the second song on the album called “Beauty in the Eye” when the lead singer Jim Myers laments, possibly seriously, that “you have the greenest eyes for someone who never recycles.” The absurdity and cheese of “Beauty” lives on throughout the record in songs like “Sugar Palace” where Myers sings, “The sugar palace in my heart is really just a burnt Pop-Tart.” There is also a song on this album about the so-called “Last Pigeon in America.” This song seems to be commenting on a multitude of social problems however I honestly can’t decide if Myers is worried about our electronic-based nine to five world’s disconnect with nature, or if he’s just eating a sandwich while watching a pigeon and musing on random and pointless thoughts. The inclusion of the toy piano in the opening of the song seems to point to the latter, however there is no telling how “deep” this band is trying to get.
The only redeeming factor I have to give this album is that it was created by a pair of old dudes who are still rocking. They seem to be somewhat fun-loving guys who don’t mind to embarrass themselves a little bit. There’s something to be said for those who grow old and continue to create some type of art – while the band’s pictures are incredibly lame the two members of the band at least look happy. However, I feel that since I am a 19-year-old female student who works at a college radio station I could not be farther from the audience intended for Milk Carton Superstars. These men possibly appeal to other young-at-heart male adults who have something in common with these Orlando-based weirdos. I, however, hope I will never find myself at a beachside bar and be forced to listen to this strange and uncomfortable alternative rock.