“Soldiers and police, I can’t tell them apart,” Samuel Claiborne laments at the beginning of “Say Goodbye to America” the first track off his latest album Love, Lust and Genocide. Over a bluesy-psychedelic vibe, Claiborne lays out how he thinks America has gone down hill: war in the streets, freedom has been sold and silence is complicity. Most startling is Claiborne’s voice: he’s not spitting venom or foaming at the mouth. His low-register and apathetic tone seems to acknowledge that the fact that these things have already happened, and we’ve let it happen to ourselves.
With a title like Love, Lust and Genocide, it should come as no surprise that there would be some confrontational material here. Claiborne himself describes the album as “passionate, controversial, noisy, experimental, [and] exuberant.” Certainly, the album will get no love from conservatives: unjust wars are taken to task, both moral and real. “21st Century War” questions the price we’ve paid for such endeavors. He doesn’t mince words, noting that “curious children” in the Middle East are blown apart like “torn flower petals.”
On “Lion and the Lamb” , he’s kicked out of his parent’s house “for loving another man” and then calls out so-called “Christians” wondering “why could your God be so cold?” Pushing the knife even further, he points out that “their twisted faith and bigotry have killed their only son.” But Claiborne has the last laugh, concluding that his God, “made me just as I am.”
Musically, the album is just as adventurous. Claiborne’s early career in the No-Wave scene with the seminal Things Fall Apart are clearly are an influence here. There are noise-freak outs (“Hurt”), avant-garde/spoken-word experimentations (“21st Century War”, “Succulence (Blasphemy)”) and folk “Broken”. Even the straight ahead moments are littered with odd detours like “Say Goodbye to America” with its mix of grunge, reggae horns and psychedelic guitars.
Love, Lust and Genocide is the kind of album that could have only been made by a man who’s experience and seen a lot and doesn’t like where the world is going. But there are also moments of hope and beauty to be found too. The best kind of art reveals both and that’s exactly what Claiborne attempts to do on Love, Lust and Genocide.