For those unfamiliar with the work of Manchester trio Proto Idiot, their latest album For Dummies is a concise introduction to the band’s penchant for the stupid. It’s an album that doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet manages to convey a convincing central message; to live in the moment, and enjoy life to the full. Beneath the façade of ridiculousness there are sparks of intelligence, a band who, through rasping vocals and often beautiful guitar work, show their masterful understanding and appreciation of rock music history.
Opening track ‘Idiot Blues’, is a mix of relaxed but effectively simple song writing. Lyrically, they’re portraying the notion that they literally ‘don’t care’. They are making music because they enjoy doing so, not to make some grand statement, while unashamedly embracing their 60’s and 70’s rock influences. ‘Add It Up’ is infectiously catchy, with its repetition of the words ‘what does it add up to?’, almost tempting anyone who’s listening to give an audible answer. Often it’s the other way round; contemporary music usually provides the answers, while here Proto Idiot are the ones asking the questions. This concept and perception is played with throughout For Dummies. They make out as if they are just a band singing nonsense lyrics but beneath it there’s much more. They may wear their badge of stupidity with pride, it’s their niche, but they still have something to say, regardless. The track ‘Influence’ is further evidence of a band playing with initial perceptions. While seemingly raving about nothing in particular, there is a depth to be found; themes around the pointlessness of living a life without a purpose.
Of course you can still enjoy For Dummies for what it is; fun, enjoyable and exciting, ridiculous rock, without delving too far into the lyrical sub-text, but it’s there if you want it. After all, all good rock music has a meaning too. This is probably best summed up by track two, ‘Real Boy’, a track showing the band’s belief that life should be lived in the moment, not being able to ‘reach’ the past and not being able to ‘seek’ the future. Life is about the now.
If you want a solid rock album that has you dancing around the room and playing air guitar, then For Dummies is the ideal album. Though, as Proto Idiot embrace their stupidity, you do wonder – are they really that stupid?
For Dummies is out May 27th on Bad Painting.