Ryan Power knows how to skew pop. ‘I Don’t Want to Die’ is nearly destined to become one of those super-weird, obscure pop gems. Outsider pop writers like Safety Scissors, Nathan Michel and R. Stevie Moore come to mind. Like Safety Scissors, the pieces feel nearly modular, pieced together haphazardly into full-blown songs. Nathan Michel’s influence is in the oftentimes sugary, child-like enthusiasm of some of these pieces. And R. Stevie Moore’s influence comes through in the bizarre lyrics and outright silliness of some of the songs.
There’s a lot going on in these twelve tracks. Oftentimes Ryan tries to make a relatively straightforward song such as ‘Lovecraft’ which is about as normal as things get, sounding about as close to pop as possible. ‘Mondo Rush’ is a Nintendo soundtrack gone very right. The song almost stumbles on itself by constantly shifting tempos and sounds. ‘Imago XXX’ surprises the listener by starting out perfectly normally before descending into a strange sing along chorus. By far my favorite is the surreal piece ‘You Wanna Seltzer’. Ryan cuts up a Steely Dan track from the mid-70s and sprinkles extraordinarily bizarre, silly lyrics over it. Also it helps that despite its heavy weirdness; it is probably the catchiest piece on here. The sexual creepiness makes it even better.
‘I Don’t Want to Die’ is an extremely playful, morbid album. The constant references to death sound almost funny in an overly tragic way. Rarely have I heard such a strange approach to pop. It is even rarer that it succeeds.