If ever a moment in history called for the caustic, corrosive rantings of guitarist-composer-poet Todd Clouser and the abstract grooves of his combustible beat-skronk band Magnet Animals, it’s this one. With our collective headspaces dizzied by a nearly yearlong pandemic induced isolation and battered by an unceasing barrage of political insanities, the serrated wit and surrealist insights of Fake Dudes arrives with the kinetic force of a madcap sermon.Fake Dudes reconvenes the geographically scattered members of Magnet Animals – Minneapolis-born, Mexico City-based Clouser, Mexican drummer Jorge Servin, and Abraxas bandmates Eyal Maoz (guitar) and Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (bass) – four years after their bracing debut, 2016’s Butterfly Killer. The startling dreamscape imagery and throttling grooves will be familiar to fans of that initial outing, though Fake Dudes trades its predecessor’s occasional airiness for a far more ferocious and claustrophobic concoction. “Sign of the times, I guess,” Clouser shrugs. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to play a lot of different music and do the things that I love, but the past few years have definitely been a trying time. It’s been a challenge just to process everything that’s going on in the world. Sometimes those sorts of expressions get pigeonholed as political, but it’s much broader than that. Music has always been my avenue to express myself in ways that I can’t otherwise, allowing me to explore where we’re going and where my place might be in that.” With its titular echo of the disinformation mantra “fake news,” Fake Dudes certainly aims some of its vitriol toward the modern era’s buffoonish demagogues, but for every biting political reference there’s an equally astute and excoriating glimpse inward, as Clouser wrestles with humanity’s penchant for self-delusion and reassuring fantasy. Delivered in a distorted haze as if broadcast through a megaphone, Clouser’s vocals achieve an abrasive tone perfect for stripping away illusions and heralding a fresh perspective – buoyed by the barbed funk bounce and overdriven rock bludgeoning of the inventive quartet.
“This is kind of an impulsive band and therefore an impulsive collection of music,” Clouser explains. “We’ve really embraced this abstract combination between music and words and also this collection of diverse sounds and personalities. We’re not trying to send some grand message or expound a vision as much as share the things we’ve been going through, and the ideas emerge naturally.”