Reviews

Not a word of a lie, I love Anna Meredith’s Fibs

A week after watching Paul Rudd’s Netflix show Living with Yourself, I kept coming back to one thing: the music.

The show was interesting enough. It’s about a bedraggled man who goes in for a wellness treatment and wakes up in a grave. He finds out that he’s been replaced by a cloned, better version of himself. Amplifying the character’s growing unease and horror, as well as the plot’s self-aware absurdity, was the soundtrack by Anna Meredith. I binged the show, partly to see what was going to happen next in the story, but increasingly to be delighted anew by the score. After the show was over, I went looking for more of the music.

As luck would have it, Meredith has a brand new album out, her second, called Fibs, and it’s thrilling. I just did not know what musical phrasing, instrumentation, or style would come up next, but when it did, it all fit together in its own bold way. Meredith’s musical foundations for this album are in classical music, pop, and electrionica, but flourishes reminiscent of carnival rides, video games, and big, brash marching bands keep the listener tumbling along through her audacious musical explorations.

Meredith is playing a couple of festivals in the Netherlands this weekend and has gigs lined up in the UK for February 2020. I hope she gets to play some Canadian dates soon.

Meanwhile, I have a bunch of back catalogue to binge before I circle back for another musical adventure ride with Fibs.

NME interviews Anna Meredith about Living with Yourself

Anna Meredith’s official website

Reviews

Stumptown

Stumptown cast: Camryn Manheim, Adrian Martinez, Michael Ealy, Cobie Smulders, Jake Johnson, Cole Sibus, Tantoo Cardinal. (ABC TV)

When it became clear that broadcast television was hellbent on reviving every procedural show from the 1970s and 80s, I thought, “Fine, but I want a Rockford Files reboot.” We could use some of that working class, down-but-not-out attitude a new Rockford could bring.

Enter Stumptown, the new ABC show based on the comic, itself inspired by the Rockford Files, by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth, and Justin Greenwood.

It stars Cobie Smulders (who plays another comic book character, Maria Hill, in the MCU) as Dex Parios, an army vet with PTSD who hasn’t had regular employment in 10 years. The show’s first episodes trace her journey from realizing that she has a knack for detective to seeking a license to become a private eye.

But Dex is the centre of the show. Like Jim Rockford, Dex is a bit of a mess–alcohol and gambling are two self-destructive ways she’s been dealing with trauma–but she also has some serious responsibilities, most importantly looking after her younger brother, Ansel, who has Down’s Syndrome (played by Cole Sibus, who also has Down’s Syndrome).

Also like Rockford, Dex loves her car. Rockford drove late-1970s golden Firebirds. Dex drives a $600 POS Mustang with a cassette of late-1970s/early-80s music stuck in the tape deck. Few things on TV are as gratifying as watching Cobie Smulders beat up the bad guys to a soundtrack of Joan Jett, the Cars, and the Clash.

So far, not a second of the first five episodes is wasted. Details matter in the show, both for the mystery of the week, and for the longer character arcs. And every recurring character seems so well considered and full of history like they could walk off and star on their own show at any time: Jake Johnson (Dex’s ex-felon friend), Michael Ealy (Dex’s cop friend, Miles), Camryn Manheim (Miles’s boss and Dex’s sometime antagonist), Adrian Martinez (Dex’s food truck friend), Tantoo Cardinal (Dex’s ex’s mother and antagonist), and Donal Logue (Dex’s P.I. mentor and antagonist).

There’s another character that makes the show: Portland, Oregon (the show is named after the city’s nickname, Stumptown). I’ve never been to Portland, but the show makes Portland, with its reputation as a hipster big small city (or small big city) constituting another character.

I’m already invested in how things turn out for all the characters. And each week, I look forward to hearing what else is on that endless mixtape.