Mo Troper Simultaneously Pokes and Stitches Broken Hearts
In the liner notes to Mo Troper’s first album Beloved, you’ll find a photocopied suspension letter from one of his teachers in grade school written to his parents. It states that he was being rowdy in class and when the teacher tried to get him to stop he kept repeating such phrases as “Jesus Christ,” and “Son of a bitch.” This led to the teacher asking him to leave the classroom, to which Troper took with puerility as an opportunity to show off to his peers - loudly singing a showtune for a grand exit.
Mo Troper’s new album, Gold, begins with a simple, heart-rending plea: “Go on and break my heart so I have something to talk about.” It’s sung with such a callous inflection, so seemingly purposeful in its sarcasm, that we are assured to get the point across that this isn’t a plea. There’s more to discuss in the world than just the one person you can’t stop thinking about, right? As the song progresses the calloused phrase slowly turns into something else. The ostensibly impenetrable Cloak of Snark* starts falling off our supposed hero and the phrase reveals itself instead as a fervent supplication. He’s begging you - “Please, break my heart one more time, if only so I can at least talk to you again.”
This contrast of mockery and authenticity is hidden in plain-sight throughout most of the record. Depending on your mental state, you’ll lean towards one side or the other. You might be loudly singing “There’s a new sheriff in town / he’s like nothing that you’ve ever had / he won’t let you down“ in your car with a sense of snide cynicism towards love because you've realized you're better off without it, or you might be listening with headphones, devastated, thinking to yourself; "Holy shit, someone is actually saying what I can't."
It’s catharsis by proxy.
There’s an interesting correlation that resides when you mix these kinds of emotionally-raw, uncomfortably-honest lyrics overtop of ferociously catchy power-pop song structures. It forces you to think about what's being said over and over again. It can't leave your head just yet; the hooks are too deep - much like the person you've been thinking about while listening to these songs. It forces you to analyze and compare your thoughts and feelings. It’s like a subtle gesture to let you know it’s okay and actually healthy to do this! The sooner you deal with your shit, the sooner you’ll be out of it.
And while this is certainly a makeshift heartbreak album (the record is composed of various songs written by Troper between 2010 and 2015), it’s not without his signature tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Troper exclaims, “Here comes your favorite idiot!” at the beginning of North Korea, moments before stating that he doesn’t “wanna be funny anymore.” Then, two songs later, he’s singing about how a hairdresser ‘saved his life’ only to have her leave just like all the other ex-lovers on“Sydney”:
Mo Troper’s Gold is a confusing record, filled with songs written during one of the most confusing time in one’s life. Is it sardonic? Is it honest? Is this a giant middle-finger to love? Or is it a tragically relatable compilation of songs? I feel a certain kind of empathy towards people like Mo, who have always considered themselves (or more appropriately, others have considered) a funny man or comedian. When you’ve grown up acting this way for so long it might seem impossible to ever come off as wholly serious. But maybe it doesn’t have to be all that serious just yet. A way to cure your broken heart could be to rip it out of your chest, throw it on the ground, throw some firecrackers at it with your friends and laugh while you wave it goodbye. Another way to mend it might be to repeatedly ruminate over your mistakes, your emotions, your anxieties, and your concerns. While listening to Gold, you’ll do both.
*Cloak of Snark (+4 Vitality, +7 Endurance, -8 Strength)
March 28, 2017