Simple Kid, Simple Kid 1 (Vector)
by: Steve Horowitz
It makes sense that the Irish born performer Ciaran McFeeley calls himself the Simple Kid. He finds the adult world corrupt and dangerous to one's health. While that might not be news, it's been over 40 years since Paul Goodman wrote his scathing critique of coming of age in Western society Growing Up Absurd, the Kid's musical analysis of the modern world reveals an insightful mind and a melodic touch. Using a naïve and sensitive persona allows the Kid to assess instinctually the time and place in which he finds himself. Like the boy who announces the Emperor has no clothes on, this Kid points out the obvious flaws of contemporary life that we continually blind ourselves to. More importantly, he does this to infectious pop/rock/electronica beats that snappily keeps our bodies in tune with our minds.
Consider the litany of information the Kid provides at the beginning of "Average Man." I have no idea if the Kid made this up, or found the data from some reliable source. It sounds plausible enough and is consistent with the image one gets of a typical Joe via television and movies.
"The average man is 35 years old
Who would want to be a grown up if it means one's dreams haven't been fulfilled and one's best days are behind him? And it gets worse, from "The average man is living for tomorrow/he cannot face his limitations today" to "I saw on TV about this man from old England/everyday he worked 17 hours/one day he come home and shoot both his children/the neighbors said he was an average man." Stories like these have become cliché. Everyone knows that the media will interview people who were familiar with the perpetrator of some horrible crime and hear some prattle about the person seemed normal. The Kid flips the story on its head and implies it was the normal life that made the person a killer. The banality of ordinary existence is at fault. The Kid sings his tale to the catchy pop rhythms of a guitar and a cheesy electronic synthesizer, which gives the listener an eerily happy feeling while hearing this tale of woe.
McFeeley has an odd method of recording. He puts down his tracks on tape, loads them into his computer, and chops them up in a way similar to the way a Hip Hop artist samples old records. This allows him to play with the lyrics, sounds, beats, and rhythms in a more creative fashion than a typical singer songwriter, which the Kid claims he ain't. The evidence on his first disc suggests that's true, especially on such tracks as "Love's an Enigma," "Hello," and "Supertramps & Superstars" whose sonic quirkiness shares much more in common with work by artists like Beck and David Bowie than with Bob Dylan.
The Kid ends the disc with a hidden bonus track, reminiscent of The Beatles' "Her Majesty" at the end of Abbey Road, only this time royalty is not treated so kindly. "Well I tried not to laugh/when Diana was halved/cause it don't make no difference to me," he sings with a bit of glee, but he begs not to be misunderstood. He claims "I'm not a cynical man" and indeed that's true. He's just a Simple Kid who doesn't care about such superficial adult matters like the death of a celebrity.