Spirit Phone Review

Grey Kautto, Staffer

Spirit Phone by Lemon Demon

Hey everyone, Grey Kautto here, the school’s busiest music nerd. It is finally time for a review of “Spirit Phone” by Lemon Demon. This is the fourth studio album from singer-songwriter Lemon Demon, aka Neil Cicierega, although he has been making music for more than 10 years. Some of his other projects include the mouth albums, a set of three albums focusing on the band “Smash Mouth.”

 This album opens up with the very psychotic “Lifetime Achievement Award,” where at the end, Neil specifies due to his strong personal conviction the record does not endorse a belief in the occult. We then move into the most upbeat and my personal favorite song, “Touch-tone Telephone.” Neil takes on the persona of a conspiracy theorist, broadcasting a theory about aliens on A.M. radio talk shows. Although it’s never specified what this theory is actually about, it’s implied that Neil thinks he’s the only one who knows the truth. 

Next is another one of my favorite songs on the album, “Cabinet Man.” Neil describes a game developer seemingly fusing with an arcade cabinet, finally taking the floor of an arcade next to the game developers workshop. This leads to him driving kids insane with the game’s visuals, along with eating maintenance men to keep his secret safe. “Eighth Wonder” is a strange-sounding song at first listen, but if you listen carefully to the lyrics, you can draw parallels to a real-life event that happened quite a while ago. 

Neil describes the creature of “Gef,” an alleged talking mongoose whose spirit was born in 1852 in New Delhi, India. Gef had been hiding in the walls of the Irving family farmhouse, only finding out when they had started to hear scratching noises coming from the walls of the house. Eventually, numerous press outlets at the time had gone to their farm to investigate although, over time, no physical evidence had been found about the actual existence of this “earthbound spirit.” 

Near the middle of the album, Neil assumes the role of a fatherly figure in the song “As Your Father I Expressly Forbid It,” where he rants about his children’s music and how their grandfather is coming over for dinner that night, along with forbidding the talk of the internet at the table. Although later in the song, it’s implied that the father figure is a very paranoid or neurotic person. This leads into the song “I Earn My Life,” where the fatherly persona describes how anxious he is about working and essentially earning his life. He strives to work as hard as he can to give himself validation of his livelihood. 

Neil then turns to a satirical take on former president Ronald Reagan, with the song “Reaganomics.” This is a critique on right-wing politics and capitalism, with actual clips of Ronald Reagan essentially having a duet with Neil. Finally, the album closes with the song “Spiral of Ants.” If you were to loop the album perfectly, the song could perfectly lead into “Lifetime Achievement Award.” This song references the herd mentality of real life but also references a real life occurrence of the same name, where a group of blind army ants follows each other until death by exhaustion. Additionally, the album has demos and b-side tracks tacked on after this. 

After years and years of trying to have an album stick, this one is pretty good. The only real downside of the album is certain songs might have needed to be mixed one more time, a handful of the instruments are a bit too loud and occasionally get overblown when they didn’t necessarily need to be. This album is nearly perfect; I give it a 9/10. Have you given this album a listen? Did you love it? Did you hate it?