Cheekface - Too Much to Ask

Living inside of a meme of himself, created by himself, Cheekface’s Greg Katz writes songs that feast on the self-deprecation of trying, reprimanding modern social tides with self-awareness and a Strokes-esque indie rock backbone.

Joined by colleagues-in-calamity Amanda Tannen and Mark Edwards, Katz squeezes out the remnants of his well-humoured anxiety trip all over Cheekface’s third album Too Much to Ask, like water dripping from a recently turned-off hose – and that’s not to say the rest of the leakage isn’t there; it creates a big ol’ puddle of strained adulthood.


With this downpour, Katz’ disgust does form lyrics – and other non-sequiturs – that wind up too silly, over-the-top, or nonsensical. You don’t even have to listen to Noodles – which is entirely comprised of the line “a big cup of noodles, a giant cup of noodles” – to best exhibit Katz’ prime goofs.

A beautifully-developed commentary runs through Featured Singer like a truck down a highway after its driver has leapt from the vehicle and likely gambolling a few yards. Katz aspires to be recruited as the guest vocalist on an EDM banger, namechecking publications, TikTok crazes, ukulele covers, and cringing wedding DJs over a danceable backing track worthy of his desires, but he’ll just as eagerly dedicate the song “to a dog named Snuggles”, over a half-sung, half-laughed vocal tone that resembles a comedian laughing at their own jokes whilst telling them.

But he is far more concise than any bad comedian; he tells clearcut one-liners and punchlines easily understood, with no further explanation required. Thus, a heck of a lot is salvaged, like when he stumbles his way through I Feel So Weird with deliberate disconnections like “the difference between me and a dog is I am taller” – a lot of lyrics about dogs on this one – but those stumbles epitomise the self-dissection that inhabits the song, assessing one’s own relationship with the failings of adulthood and modern life. Its chorus is damn heartfelt; Katz surreally offloads his baggage by screaming “LOOK MOM, I’M TRYING”.

Manoeuvring the worms and other, larger, scarier animals of adulthood is one of many Too Much to Ask facets reminiscent of Car Seat Headrest. Opening track When Life Hands You Problems immediately possesses this musician-on-musician connection; the straightforward alternative rock, the neurotic, deep, talkative vocal style. The slight soundalike grabs attention, necessary for ensuing social messages, mentioned in passing before Pledge Drive outright states “I’m standing in the Wendy’s drive-thru screaming ‘fuck all the transphobes’”.

Katz’ heartiest observation occurs as a domino effect of evil is chronicled through We Need a Bigger Dumpster. An escalation of problems is compared to virus-spreading; its own personal dumpster fire is sparked and greatened by a jittering, unsettled chorus which gets louder and louder, climbing fretboards and tonally-shifting vocals to reach the K2-tracing summit of dissolution.

While conciseness might not appear at the forefront of You Always Want to Bomb the Middle East, the outline of its message – think of all the other things you could do instead of bullying – is as accessible as its stunning catchiness. I wish there were synonyms that could capture what an earworm the tune is, but stunning catchiness will suffice. Friends shoots for a similar message, but trades general bullyish attitudes for the dysfunctionality of a friendship on the fritz, coming to the conclusion that we may be better off without, comprising the summary “we don’t have to be friends”, and anecdotal lines like “ask your therapist to tell you who you’re gonna vote for”.

But Katz is always attracted to the thought of what he can do to change; that ‘charity begins at home’ beginning and ending. His self-awareness kicks in again on Next to Me (Yo Guy Version), which examines the line where sympathy for the jilted and downright stalking meet. He stands outside of his ex-partner’s building, swapping Cupid’s harp for a rasping yelp of “I liked it better when you were standing next to me”, all in a blowout of yucky behaviour, necessity for improvement, and yup, stunning catchiness.

These entities factor the checklist that Too Much to Ask lives by. Fair enough, the catchiness doesn’t necessarily continue onto final track Vegan Water (though the drum intro to Michael Jackson’s Rock With You seems to lead into the last chorus, so that’ll do), but the checklist is met throughout, and persuasively.

The mania of living as a young adult in this crumbling modern world is prevalent as it rattles through this cute-as-a-button indie rock album. Discouragement, anxiety, atonement; it’s all professed with heart and individual quirks, making for a hectically entertaining batch of mini anthems that isn’t without its moments that are a tad too unusual. Long live Cheekface.

Lasting Appeal



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