Splittsville, against all odds, overcame and conquered

Teddy Hyde and I go way back. His premiere album, Sock-Footed, was the first time his lemon tart voice graced my ears, and I’ve been waiting to hear it again ever since my whimsical enamoration of his song “Vanilla Curls” ran dry. 

So, I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Slowly my abstinent hope atrophied until I simply forgot, but someone didn’t. 

Teddy Hyde opened the new year 2020 by releasing his sophomore album Splittsville on the 4th of January. With a name so ambiguous and fictitious, I found myself apprehensive and curious of the inner machinations of an album I desperately wanted to love—an album I knew I would force myself to love if need be. 

Yet, when I finished the eleventh song, the lyrically lustful thump of my heart ensured my infatuation was nothing but independent. 

Let me explain.

The album starts off with “Jet Plane.” With an unassuming beginning, this song is timid. Starting with a bang is not how I would choose to describe this song, but as I neared the timestamp in which the vocals start in most tunes, my interest piqued as I continued to be serenaded by a lovely yet borderline passive-aggressive symphony.

It was a harsh beauty, and then, the vocals began. As the forlorn jazz sentences spilled from my speakers, I was forced to realize that what I was hearing wasn’t singing. What I was hearing began as a spoken word poem that liquidized into lyrical longing.

It was singing, but it was more. 

The song changed and metamorphosized, filling my line of sight, peripherals, and stimulating my retinas. Everything was “Jet Plane,” “Jet Plane,” “Jet Plane.” As Hyde instrumentalized definitions of turbulence and lift, I felt myself needing to strap in. I was only five minutes into this album, but I was struck with a realization.

This was the takeoff. 

I soared into “Welcome to Splittsville” as I seamlessly rose in altitude. If I would have blinked, I would have missed the intro to the song, for Splittsville is a circular album: each song bleeding into the next, each ending an intro. 

It was unnatural to hear clouds, yet that’s what happened. Airborne as I was, “Welcome to Splittsville” reminded me of just how unearthly this moment was, but before I knew it, the moment was over. Two minutes and twenty-eight seconds more had passed—my cognizance oblivious as my greed for more took over; listening was all I knew.

“Abington’s Arcade” gangled into the atmosphere; goofy as it was, it remained as art: a heavenly body with a nuanced circumgyration, a cherub with cheeks a little too blush. This song was an unconventional beauty like creased black leather seats worn by adventure.

“Abington’s Arcade,” while being an unconditionally new experience, somehow in someway sounded like history. It was music with the same spastic beauty as early 2000s graphic design; you hate that you love looking at it. It’s enthralling in color and smoothly rough around the edges. “Abington’s Arcade” was a time machine tunnel of tunes.

I felt like I owned the summer streets when the ground was electric with hopscotch stains and eclectic with smeared sidewalk chalk; I yearned to hear the abhorrent squeak of rubber soles and caress the coarse love of denim.

As I left the party scene that was “Abington’s Arcade,” the tempo increased and increased, and the psychedelic revolving door I had become one with spit me out, leaving me to swat away the birds swarming my sub-conscience like Whack-A-Mole. 

Still dizzy, “Lazy Bones Bowl-O-Drome” greeted me with a techno trill and easy flow. Often reminded of the jet from which I began this journey, I roamed the sound, finding what was new and interesting—in short, everything.

This song was a kind rendition of teenage rebellion: angst with a bit of sweetness, a dark time with an obvious light at the end of the tunnel. A troublesome tango I was dancing as this song dribbled to an end, my slow steps ceasing until I was standing as still as the bowling pins being struck by the lyrics.

“Lazy Bones Bowl-O-Drome” was the calm before the storm.

“Channel 01 Clown” was delightfully raw and reminiscent of a static television somehow more entertaining than the silver screen. True to the name, this song was littered with circus big-top tents, red and white stripes, and balloon animals: symbols of commercialized glee. 

My fingers resonated like bells with the end of each friction-full snap—uncontrollably flicking my fingers and clicking my tongue. 

Click.

Snap.

Click.

Snap.

Slowly, my clicking and snapping deviated from a pattern as they felt more and more out of place with the shifting mood of the song. The overly boisterous and joyous singing had died, and in its place stood a melancholic morose medley, yet it was shortchanged by the interception of an overhead voice laden with a mocking message and meaning. The joyous beat returned, but the light-hearted jumpiness proved unrevivable, and the once happy song turned into a sardonic parody of its preceding lyrics.

“Channel 01 Clown” was a cinematic masterpiece solely catering through spoken means, yet accessing every sense.

“Terry’s Taxidermy” started in no time, eager to tell its own story. This song is more than a series of melodies, though; it’s a puzzling production pulling prize after prize as the music whizzes through bar lines and pinches the pinna of your ear. 

“Terry’s Taxidermy” is a story and a comedic one at that. Incorporating humor into music while maintaining catchiness was a feat easily accomplished by Hyde and appreciated by the listener. 

In an astoundingly idiosyncratic album, “Terry’s Taxidermy” is a standout. Nothing on this album is anything like I’ve ever heard before, but this song is different—I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was hearing or rather experiencing.

“Target” was a glimpse of the Teddy Hyde I knew. It was a lyrically-driven piece giving extra emphasis on his voice which had been sharing the spotlight with instrumentals for far too long. “Target” was a bubbling melancholia—fizzing my feelings into a foamy poison.

The words “a morbid and glamourized disguise of self-abuse” remained in my head for much longer after they were spoken. Joining them, the multi-occurring zenith of this piece was the sudden crashing crescendo. To describe it in too much detail would be offensive; it left me with my jaw unhinged, unable to form coherent sentences.

“Target” was an orchestra of words masterfully strung together like a motley macrame of meaning. Each lyric was a streak on a portrait in a painter’s dream—Hyde’s voice a gentle paintbrush. 

“Presser Diamond Co.” transported me to the jazzy-bluesy-ridden ally of an exploited New York slum—or is it Philadelphia, or perhaps Boston. My mind yearned to find the origin of this song in order to make itself at home in the harmonies. Sailing seas and mounting mountains just to find this fictitious place, my mind was whirring.

This song was adventurous, jazzy, and the perfect crossroads of Hyde’s new sound and his old voice.

“Dead Man” finalizes the album’s presence in three minutes and forty-six seconds of gut-wrenching guitar and only two lyrics.

“I am nothing and so are you. Let’s be nothing together.”

One song in, this album joined my music library. Three songs in, countless lyrics joined my quote book. Seven songs in, “Teddy Hyde tour tickets” joined my search history. Eleven songs in, this album perpetuated its position in my heart.

Forty-nine minutes of pure enlightenment.

Two-thousand-nine-hundred-fifty seconds of mesmerization.

Teddy Hyde’s Splittsville was one moment of splendor.