Vanity Phase

Unnatural Habits

BY Jenna McClellandPublished Feb 26, 2019

I can imagine taking part in a human wave to the new Vanity Phase, vibrating, bouncing and charging with a million other cells. The solo debut of Century Palm's Andrew Payne, Unnatural Habits, is electric — figuratively and literally — using jittered synthesizers and bingo bongo drum machines that align with a 1978 Devo soundwave.
Its essence, however, is distinct from its musical ancestry. Payne's vocals cut a path through technology shock, using the very means that caused its tremor. Payne speaks sprightly: "Don't you dream out loud / Please keep it to yourself" is the imperative that offers financial and social security on "Win the Bread," a free-for-all blitz on the norms of somnambulism under capitalism. But "Unnatural Habits" does not cower or dwell on our ceremonies of "progress": it provides the feverish soundtrack to dance in its face.
"Unnatural Habits" both settles and unsettles; the musical notation brings us back into our bodies, letting us fly off like fireworks — hair in motion, fingers blushing. Unsettling are the unnatural habits that Payne builds his speech on, the consequential surgeries we perform to streamline existence. Vanity Phase brings the sounds of Gary Numan together with the context of "Content Nausea" by Parquet Courts, merging to perform a high-speed tremolo of the sights and sounds of crusty modernity: "Don't forget the feeling of being a human / When we leave that behind."

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