Rarely does an album title reveal as much as ‘I Know I’m Funny haha’ does; at once, it projects confidence (bordering on the obnoxious), a no-f*cks-given attitude to the opinions of others and a subtle, sarcastic wit (“ha ha”). If the album’s title makes Faye Webster sound utterly self-assured, it’s because she is; ‘I Know I’m Funny haha’ unfolds stubbornly at it’s own pace; refusing to make any concessions at the expense of Webster’s creative vision. Webster has a distinctive drawl; one that is at once listless and filled with emotion. Opener ‘Better Distractions’ begins with the line “sit around until I found something better to spend my time / but nothing’s appealing”; her voice at first sounds emotionless until it begins to break towards the end of the second line; revealing a harrowing emptiness.
Faye Webster pulls this trick again and again on ‘I Know I’m Funny haha’; where as her other indie peers may focus on capturing feelings on longing, despair and angst, Webster expertly captures emptiness, despondency and numbness; the sort of numbness developed as a coping mechanism against otherwise unrecoverable pain and hurt. Over timeless country-infused rock arrangements, Webster stoically recounts tales of melancholy, boredom and quiet frustration. Behind the stoicism of Webster’s vocals, harrowing truths are unearthed; ‘Sometimes’ contains one killer, devastating line: “And then he left me, for someone who looks like me”. The chorus sees Webster repeat the titular “Sometimes” over and over, stretching each syllable out as long as possible until it slowly dissolves. It’s the sound of someone left adrift in a vast ocean of emptiness long enough to make peace with the sheer directionlessness of it all.
‘Both All The Time’ is the closest companion to ‘Sometimes; “there’s a difference between lonely and lonesome / But I’m both all the time” sings Webster, not sounding sad so much as she sounds exhausted and out worn. The song details experiencing a pain so severe that it leaves you crying so much “it’s hurtin’ [your] eyes” and retreating to familiar comforts; refusing to leave your house, “re-reading the same book” because you “know how it ends”, drinking beers in the shower on lonely nights and sleeping with the lights on to “pretend like somebody’s here”.
There are glimmers of hope and lightness on ‘I Know I’m Funny haha’ (on the fourth track, Webster is crying once again, but this time “in a good way”), but they never last particularly long. The title of ‘A Dream With A Baseball Player’ sounds romantic, as does the opening line “I saw you last night in my dreams”, but this sentiment is soon soured as Webster follows it up with “that’s still the closest you and I have been.” Once again, the instrumentation is minimal, but conversely “there’s so much going on” in Webster’s life: “My grandmother’s dead / And I can’t sleep ’cause this isn’t my bed” she sings matter-of-factly on the track.
Across it’s 11 tracks and 41-minute run time, ‘I Know I’m Funny haha’ trots along with the same stoic, matter-of-factness and does so at an unconcerned pace; it makes for a mostly beguiling, and only ever-so occasionally frustrating experience. The slow, gradually unfurling nature of the album – as well as it’s understated instrumentation and production – will undoubtedly alienate many listeners, but given the tone of the album, I doubt Webster cares, haha.
Best Tracks: ‘Better Distractions’, ‘I Know I’m Funny haha’, ‘Kind Of’, ‘Cheers’, ‘Both All The Time’
Worst Tracks: ‘Overslept’