A Real Good Album with some Real Bad Apples

Rock’s alive with the new album A Real Good Person in a Real Bad Place, though not every song makes the grade

Des Rocs’ latest album cover, featuring his real good face ;)

Des Rocs’ latest album cover, featuring his real good face ;)

Ella Whalen, Staff Writer

The up-and-coming rock musician Des Rocs, whose work has enthralled me since shortly after my freshman year began, released his first album, A Real Good Person in a Real Bad Place, and began his first headlining national tour, Des Rocs Alive, just a few weeks ago on September 24th. While his older works fit snugly into the label ‘rock’, this album has gone a lot broader with its genres, touching upon pop, punk rock, indie, and just plain strange ones I cannot put a finger on. As inevitable with experimentation, some songs on his album flop in my mind, but others strike it rich with a sound I hope he continues with in the future.

The overall feeling of the album is one of being lost, betrayed, and desperate, if one couldn’t guess from the title (that one being me, evidently, as I didn’t connect the dots until I started writing this). Though each song has a unique sound to it, most of them not coming off as typically sad, nearly all of them discuss him feeling “like [his] whole life is counting down to something” (“Tick”), that someone has “taken everything” and “wasted all of [him]” (“The Devil Inside”), that he’s “lost in such a hopeless town” and he can’t be loved until he loves himself too (“Born to Lose”), and a host of other pieces of despair. Strangely, though, the song “MMC” (short for Mickey Mouse Club, reportedly so he doesn’t get sued by Disney) contains none of these themes, instead being anti-celebrity culture, as it knows “…exactly what to do with a pretty face / before it ends up on a milk jug.” If anything, it’s more one of personal strength than pity, full of conviction that he’d never be part of such a culture and even that he’s “their worst nightmare.”  It’s not in any special place on the tracklist, either, being fifth out of 11 songs, so its inclusion rather than being a separate single does confuse me a bit.

Me being a connoisseur of more traditional rock, “Why Why Why” is the song that got me the most excited; it lays great guitar on thick, the lyrics like “Don’t look back and live a happy ever after / With dirt caked in your nails” and “My heart is black and beating in a jail / Hell is scary and hell is real” tickle the little literature nerd in me, the singing has every quirk I’ve come to enjoy out of Des, and it’s got just enough of a groove to get my legs bouncing. It’s a song to get absolutely pumped to, one that makes you want to scream along with it—I could only imagine how explosive it is live! “Ruby With the Sharpest Lies” and “The Devil Inside” are my other favorites of the album, but for less of a reason I could put my finger on (they’re the main ones under ‘just plain strange’ from the intro). They’re groovy, they’re experimental, they’ve got little vocal flairs all over the place, and they’re just so hard to pin down. The only comparison I can make is to a few electronic-ish cassettes I have from the early 90’s, and even that doesn’t explain much as to why they catch me. You’d have to hear it for yourself, and I highly recommend you do.

Unfortunately, there are a few songs on the album that just disappoint me. “Tick,” the “north star of the entire album,” as Des said in a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything, the song the album is named after (from a lyric, but still), the song frequently referenced in later songs such as the whole bridge and outro of “Born to Lose.” the first song on the tracklist, the song of the album, is genuinely horrible to me. Maybe I got too excited over it from hearing it in his digital concert from the summer, or maybe I went into it with too picky of a mindset and shoved it away, but it sounds like an unfinished recording, or something from an elementary school talent show. The vocals are entirely out of rhythm and are barely even sung, and there’s no flair at all until the final chorus—which is the last 20 seconds of the 2-minute song, certainly not making up for the rest of it to me. It’s not one I can even see someone conceivably enjoying, yet it holds such great importance that the album as a unit is greatly lessened from it. “Rabbit Hole” is not to my taste at all either, being what I can only describe as ‘sad boi’ music with barely any instrumentation, but I honestly take more issue with the naming. A rabbit hole in my mind is a deep dive into the obscure, likely irrelevant details of something-or-other, like when you keep clicking on hyperlinks in Wikipedia and find yourself on the history of barbecue sauce. The song “Rabbit Hole,” however, is about Des not wanting to hurt someone close to him when his “weather’s turnin’ blue,” which still is a descent I suppose, but not the type I’d associate with the term at all. The song is the last on the tracklist as well, so both the album’s ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ are mediocre at best. Despite these two, the album overall is a success in my mind, and I am not only proud of Des for coming so far as to release an entire album like this, but also very pleased that he’s given a few more bangers to get stuck in my head.