“I wanted to write a song that presented a resigned, even joyful look at doom.”
That’s David Byrne looking back on his 1985 Talking Heads hit, “Road To Nowhere.” It’s a song that does exactly what Byrne intended: shrugs at the notion of death, smiles in the face of oblivion. “Come along and take that ride,” he sings. Whether you like it or not, it’s an invitation you can’t turn down.
Fast-forward a few decades and there’s a new way to travel that road to nowhere. Yes, it’s time to step inside “Death Van,” the latest gleefully apocalyptic jam from Milwaukee’s venerable IfIHadAHiFi. If you’re looking to scream your head off this summer—in joy or in despair—look no further.
The chorus, in case you didn’t catch it, is “Death Van! You’re riding in the Death Van!”
“Death Van” is just one track from IfIHadAHiFi’s new album (the band’s first in seven years!), We’re Never Going Home. Recorded and mixed at Howl Street Recordings, it’s a typically noisy and chaotic affair, full of high-tension guitar playing, pissed-off drumming, and bursts of room-clearing shouting. (Full disclosure: The band’s drummer, DJ Hostettler, is a Milwaukee Record contributor.) But there’s a decidedly mature, socially conscious vibe running through the record, giving songs like “Hot Take On Line One” and “Bigfoot, Take The Wheel” a real-world urgency. In a press release, the band explains:
We’re Never Going Home is an album about anxiety and snarky indignation about where we’ve arrived at in the United States today: we’re never going home because we’re through the looking glass and are in a weird-ass world where people reject science while working wage slave gigs and holing up at night, ranting at right-wing talk radio with the curtains drawn lest any truth get through. On the other hand, We’re Never Going Home also is an album about the excitement of moving forward in life and not knowing what’s coming next—the metaphorical piling into a dilapidated death trap tour van and never looking back.
We’re Never Going Home is streaming now. IfIHadAHiFi will play a release show for a limited run of CDs (“and hopefully LPs”) July 19 at High Dive. In the meantime, gas up, tweak that custom airbrush art, and take the ride.