Album Review: Hank & Dad™, 'Music for Delis' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Music » Album Review

Album Review: Hank & Dad™, 'Music for Delis'

by

Hank & Dad™, Music for Delis
  • Hank & Dad™, Music for Delis

(Self-released, digital)

Just as all great television series reach their epic finales, conceptual pop outfit Hank & Dad™ just released its final album, Music for Delis. But who are Hank & Dad™? And why is their name trademarked? Should Seven Days unmask the man behind the project? Nah. Let's just say that he's a longtime Burlington musician, and the trademark symbol is just one kitschy aspect of the food- and pop-culture-obsessed artist. If you really want to know who he is, maybe send him a message via Bandcamp.

Music for Delis is a 20-track flurry of goofy, synth-heavy product placements for nonexistent commodities and sickly sweet love songs about '80s and '90s television and film characters. Imagine if They Might Be Giants teamed up with Dr. Demento, and they started making fanciful jingles for dubious dining establishments ("Chris Chelios' Chili House") or psychotic radio spots for hygienic products ("Tissues"). The instrumentation is intentionally chintzy. It's a celebratory blend of elevator music spliced with novelty pop.

Clearly a child of the late '70s/early '80s, the enigmatic creator puts sitcom heroines of the day on a pedestal. "Mallory Keaton" is a sparkling dream-pop ode to teenage Justine Bateman, who played the character on NBC's "Family Ties." "Mallory Keaton / You're so beautiful / Even though your boyfriend Nick is a jerk / Your family eventually accepted him into your family," the artist rambles over a bed of soft murmurs and clattering chimes.

Part of the album's charm is the nuance of the references. "Winnie Cooper vs. Becky Slater" only makes sense if you've watched ABC's "The Wonder Years." On the '60s-era show, teenage protagonist Kevin Arnold rebounded from his true soul mate — girl-next-door archetype Winnie Cooper — to the volatile yet sensitive Becky Slater. The acoustic ballad even includes teases of series composer W.G. Snuffy Walden's "Winnie's Theme."

"Hobson," a quick tune about recurring character Craig Hobson, is an even deeper dive into "The Wonder Years." Under nauseating synths the artist sings, "Craig Hobson / Craig Hobson / He's a friend of mine / Some of the time." It puts superfluous scrutiny on one of Arnold's inconsequential but nonetheless confounding friendships.

And then there are just freaking weird tracks. "Buttcrack Brown" is a doo-wop PSA for wiping your ass. "Hey Dad? Hey What?" is a breathy, a cappella round about cough drops that gets increasingly aggravated. And "Laundry Day" sounds plucked from an educational kids' show.

The best thing about Music for Delis is its sincerity. Sure, it's plenty tongue-in-cheek, but it's not ironic or cynical. It's just fun.

Music for Delis is available at hankndad.bandcamp.com.