A common gripe against music coverage in Milwaukee—and music coverage in general—is that the media pays attention to only a small handful of bands. These bands tend to be safe, predictable, and career-oriented. They exist in a comfortable bubble of friends and co-conspirators, sharing the same members, playing the same clubs, and garnering the same press. The “scene,” as it were, fails to progress, and becomes littered with flash-in-the-pan groups chasing the latest musical trend, sometimes years too late.
That gripe is mostly bullshit, but never mind that now. Peeper & Le Play, a band on no one’s radar, has made one of the best—and weirdest—Milwaukee albums of 2015. The delightfully titled Mandatory Fantasies finds Trusty Knife frontman Zack Pieper and Milwaukee film/music staple Didier Leplae tumbling down a sonic rabbit hole of cockeyed funk, off-kilter disco, warped indie, and general experimental fuckery for 18 kidding-not-kidding tracks. “Allow Me” and “Bedtime” play like Ween at its most playful and Prince-esque, dropping lines like “Had to pay the milkman / To take your money down / To the DMV.” “Funny Money” dips its toe into outré hip-hop, “Jake’s Day Off” pits two narrators against each other to tell a ridiculously mundane story, and “The Haunted Hot Tub (Surrounded!)” is everything you’d hope for from a song called “The Haunted Hot Tub (Surrounded!).” Along the way there are oodles of processed vocals, diversions worthy of early Guided By Voices, and plenty of crack musicianship. Oh, and it’s really funny.
Make no mistake: Mandatory Fantasies isn’t for everyone. It’s defiantly long and overstuffed, filled with half-formed sketches and quickly discarded ideas, and things get a little rough at times. (Have fun getting through the nearly six-minute closer, “Just Look What We Did”!) There’s hardly anything approximating a radio single, and even the most accessible tracks (“Allow Me,” “Tied To Lies”) are less pop songs and more pop songs lurking beneath one of those “magic eye” posters you used to find in the mall. But if you’re longing for some off-the-beaten-path music bubbling with wide-eyed affection and what-the-hell creativity, Peeper & Le Play are here to make all your fantasies come true.
Stream and/or purchase Peeper & Le Play’s Mandatory Fantasies below. The duo’s next show is July 28 at Bremen Cafe, with Lauryl Sulfate & Her Ladies Of Leisure and Hailey Wojcik.