The Full Retard

Central Question: Is fashion a form of time travel?

The Full Retard

Jeremy Schmidt
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Like an oracle crowning herself queen, the hook from “The Full Retard” predicts its own reign: “So you should pump this shit, like they do in the future.” The song’s track is all clanging beats and zapping lasers, its lyrics Jaime Meline’s standard skyscrapers-and-sewers futurism, its overall effect a parade of sonic likenesses of the coming world’s broken infrastructure. The chorus, though—the chorus is more about taste than about politics or apocalypse. Take another gander: so you should pump this shit, like they do in the future.

This is a glimpse into the hypnotic heart of hype itself. What does it mean to pump, promote, or even love something right now, knowing that it—the song or the idea or the meme—will be ubiquitous in the future? Why would we want to prefigure the they of Meline’s rancid imagination, anyway? (To prepare?) More practically, shouldn’t our own pumping, or pooh-poohing, have some influence on the popularity of this shit among later humanoids? 

Meline offers us a chance to jump forward in time by becoming early adopters, but time travel screws massively with the idea of being an informed cultural consumer: it magnifies the repercussions of each choice while simultaneously calling the possibility of choice itself into question. Does Calvin Klein owe his success to Marty McFly? What happens if you go back and sleep with someone who liked ska? What will my taste look like in two months, or twenty years, if I think about what my taste will look like in two months or twenty years? Theirs?

The spiraling uncertainty of the hook lands the present, line and sinker; its phrasing prods our collective tendency to vacillate between enthusiasm and doubt, yet manages to remain firmly above that spiral. To wit: the hook is itself a sample from Camu Tao’s superb “When You’re Going Down.” But by shearing it of context, positioning it front and center, and repeating it endlessly, Meline situates his own style—this shit—beyond both time and fashion. It’s not that the folks of 2050 will listen; it’s that they already do. And they, too, are being told to do it like they do in the future. The deferral is infinite, which is less a joke about keeping up with the robo-Joneses than a proclamation that we never can. The taste curve has been flattened. This is already the future, which doesn’t exist, so you might as well listen. No reason necessary.           

Album featuring “The Full Retard”: Cancer for Cure; Album’s take on the coming dystopia: “Flesh shuddering from the ovens. / Prisoners of the earth, come out. / Storm the studio”; Source of sample in previous phrase: William S. Burroughs; Album’s take on hype: “Fuck your droid noise”; Album’s take on time travel: “Don’t make me suffer this dimension straight”; Earlier album’s take on time travel: “We need to go back in time to when motherfuckers could rock / 88 miles per hour, bring it back to the block”; Album’s take on things in general: “Fuck the sun.”

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