I don’t know if 26-year-old Los Angeles based comedian/musician Pat Regan smells like shit but his first album doesn’t; actually, it’s quite good. Released on the Oklahoma comedy label Robot Saves City, the title “Pat Regan Smells Like Shit” hints that Regan is one of the many self-deprecating artists that often congregate towards comedy. After various listens it’s hard to know whether to take his moments of seriousness earnestly or know if they’re part of the joke. That’s probably an element masked in his childish humor along with a lack of care for the title on the thirteen track album; it’s confusing to try to untangle any driving force except Pat Regan’s fun. This confusion of course adds to the album’s unpredictable silliness and, well, what makes it worth your time.
“The Pat Regan Show/Señorita” is a juvenile welcome with Mr. Regan’s already shrill voice singing between heavy strumming reminiscent of a surf song and the most annoying off and on wailing I’ve heard this side of adulthood. He quickly switches to the “Señorita” portion of the song where “señorita” is lazily rhymed with “margarita” in a way that would induce a quick shake of the head if the musician wasn’t aware of it. “Graham Greene” is an exercise in misdirection; it’s not a hilarious ode to author Graham Greene but rather a hilarious tale of Pat’s disappointment in worshiping Satan after the dark lord admits to idolizing Graham Greene a little too much. The description of Satan’s “prickly red balls” makes me smile as I type. Pat’s zingers are frequently absurd and come out of nowhere without a punchline or set up amid description. A favorite of mine is “King of the Juju” when pondering the visage of his soccer net mask wearing captor, “…show me some grace, show me your face, I bet its super honkey”.
The stand out comedic songs on the album are all three parts of “Me & Greg’s Dad” where a relationship with his friend’s dad is filled with statutory rape, death, farts, an affair, murder, the humming of a Peter Gabriel song, a grisly marriage proposal and more than I can put into this review. Pat is equal parts musician as he is comedian, showcasing versatility on his guitar—basically a musical comedy staple—and throwing in the harmonica on a few songs, notably the self-deprecating title track “Pat Regan Smells Like Shit”. Some songs sound folksy, others wouldn’t be out of place at a punk concert but the most obvious in the artist’s cadre of skills are as a song writer which is where the album gets confusing.
“We’ve Got the Science” is a sad Bob Dylan-esque ballad—aided by his Dylen-esque voice— about fear of aging, sarcasm and lack of faith in the medical industry and the superficiality of fighting death. The first two verses are strong with the second stating:
“There’s doctors, there’s nurses, and there’s dieticians and there’s nail technicians and surgeons, beauticians, they’re waging a war against age ‘cause it’s all the rage to never surrender or give into time, can split wood in two, it can split me and you but it wouldn’t because we’ve got the science and pretty soon we’ll have the cure then we’ll be sure and we’ll never have to die again…”
The chorus is simple but even prettier:
“Natural causes aren’t causes to die for. You can put us in beds but don’t put us to sleep.”
It’s a moving plea against the inevitability of death, searching for anything but. The third verse is equally as strong, although shorter than the first two. But then there is a tiny inclusion of robots replacing humanity leaving us pathetic nevertheless free from death. It still preserves the meaning of the song but with the robots added to the mix, it questions its credibility, especially on a comedy album.
Simply put, I don’t know if Pat Regan is fucking with his listeners or being genuine. Half the songs on the album—well, eight out of thirteen—have strong introductions that one might mistake for true songs without any element of parody. This showcases the strength of Regan’s writing in true set-up then punchline structure of a joke. For example, “King of the Juju” begins with:
“I set myself free, I let myself go, I suddenly stopped, don’t wanna go home…”
This is good but slowly segues into a ridiculous song about living in the Juju man’s basement pleading for death. Even calling what comes next a punchline seems cheap; he veers completely off track with non-sequitur.
The second half of the album is filled with songs that display Pat Regan’s insecurities and longings secreted within comedy and genuine song writing with exception of the wonderful, “I’ve Got a Chance”. I’d say it’s a waste but I can’t help but smile and acknowledge they might not be for me. Songs like “Oh Laura” about yearning for the title character but include the lyric, “couldn’t put my dick away”; “Somebody to Love Me Tonight” about loneliness are trivialized with, “I am a big old stinky piece of shit…”; and “Love Song Ding Dong”, while it has lyrics about depending on his parents at 25 years of age after a gorgeous intro, and mention of endlessly masturbating it still focuses on the harsh life of comedians feeling narcissistic yet useless. BUT it has one of the best call backs that ruins the song’s tone and it’s worth it. I will not ruin it for you, buy the album.
Mr. Pat Regan’s debut is a strong one adding a musical element to the already eclectic roster of Robot Saves City. The album’s tone of silliness might deter a few comedy elitists but it will attract fans of the avant-garde, [adult swim] and folk music. It’s worth a listen to anyone one in the market for something new. Pat Regan might smell like shit but he’s definitely not to be slept on.
If you’re interested in going to the listening party, it will be held at the 51st Street Speakeasy in OKC, 1114 NW 51st OKC, OK, Wednesday, Oct 1 at 9 p.m. It is free. Check event link for additional details like promotions and giveaways.
Not going to the listening party? Check Robot Saves City for “Pat Regan Smells Like Shit” by Pat Regan.