Monday, January 25th, 2021


“I used to be in a band where punctuation was a big deal, so I just wanted to take the opposite approach and get rid of it all…


Thomas Inskeep: Who could’ve guessed that arch, super-new-wavey vocals atop a synthier take on Thompson Twins — there’s some Flock of Seagulls influence, too — would top the Alternative Airplay chart in early 2021? Not that I’m complaining, mind you: if more pop/rock sounded like this today, I’d listen to a lot more of it.

Rose Stuart: I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME is a band that I respect more than I like. Ironically for a band built on ’80s influences, the more they embrace the ’80s the worst they get. “Leave Me Alone” has a killer bass line that could be directly lifted from a Talking Heads song. Dallon Weekes’s vocals perfectly ride the line between ’80s and modern rock. The hook is an ear worm and a half. And yet every praiseworthy element flies out the window with every second of that screeching synthesizer. It sounds exactly like the ’80s, but some things should remain in the decade where they came from. 

Alfred Soto: This thwacking performance wants to evoke 1987 stadium rock, hence the ironic title, and hence having nothing to offer except a cartload of referents.

Iain Mew: They’ve got the bright, full sound down, even if it’s a little too close to just being “Love Me,” but the vocal needs to absolutely command the space to complete the approach, and it’s way too tremulous to pull it off.

Vikram Joseph: Disco-funk of the sort that the 1975 flirted with on “Love Me” and “UGH!,” and got away with largely because Matty Healy sounded like he was having fun. IDKHBTFM sound like they’re trying very hard to convince us that they’re having fun, but everything from the vocals to the arrangement (which, for the most part, sounds like a pre-set track on a keyboard) sounds strained. “Leave Me Alone” is forced fun, like a team bonding exercise or a drinking game that no-one really wants to play.

Harlan Talib Ockey: Streamlines their geeky analog weirdness into something so slickly anonymous your ears just slide right off it. The beat does bang pretty hard though.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Comes off far too stiff and calculated to get me excited, but you can tell these guys aren’t aiming to sound loose given how caged-in all the rhythms feel. The ending hints at how this could’ve all been fine if they had flashier synth parts throughout. Really, they just put too much stock in the big vocals.

Ady Thapliyal: “Leave Me Alone” sounds like Brendon Urie sing-yelling over the synths from “Time To Pretend.” What’s different, though, is that P!ATD and MGMT are genuinely funny, while iDKHow both here and throughout their discography are completely bereft of the gift of wit. “Leave Me Alone” is a stream of cliches (money doesn’t buy you friends, the Devil you know, etc.), each one sung in the tenor of extraordinary revelation. The few original punchlines are of the quality of “Go fly a kite until you’re tangled in the hanging tree.” Does iDKHow know what a hanging tree is? No, of course not.  

Andrew Karpan: A ghoulish dispatch from the territory of bad taste, the song indicates that the ever-bizarre ’80s renaissance goes on left of the dial, kind of like how “Blue Monday” was in that Spielberg movie or the whole general direction of Brendon Urie’s Panic! at the Disco project. These guys, however, approach the decade by way of a curious and occasionally inspired bit of Duran Duran karaoke that reaches its zenith when singer Dallon Weekes, himself an erstwhile Panic! player, sings a strange little line about finding god with such glammy pizzazz that, in those fragile seconds, he could pass for a humble Kevin Barnes-type journeying deep into the dark night to find his own unique way of imitating Prince.

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