“Make my nipples hard, let’s go!”
I have no clue which back-up singer said this to Gregg Alexander while recording his only studio release Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too (1999), but it completely sets the tone for the entire record. I bought this CD at a K-Mart knockoff store in my hometown merely because of the one-hit wonder “You Get What You Give”. And make no mistake, I firmly expected it to be a $15 single. I had no idea the riches that lay within. The opening track “Mother We Just Can’t Get Enough” still remains my favorite cut off the album actually. But front-to-back, this album brings piano-pop goodness that you can’t help but smile while listening.
If you’ve ever read the crazy story of how Gregg got this unlikely album made, it’s well worth the read.
What I especially love about the album is after the sickeningly sweet opening tunes, the album takes a much darker and interesting tone with the underrated “I Hope I Didn’t Just Give Away the Ending” which opens with a sort of slow vignette of vocals, drums and piano that reaches a fever pitch. The song is masterful storytelling, and ends tragically with a cup of coffee accidentally laden with coke (I won’t give away the ending!).
Other standout tracks include the somewhat psychedelic title track “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too”, or “In Need of a Miracle” (“Been All Around this Bad, Bad World/ Tryin’ to find some Tenderness”) and “Gotta Stay High”.
Really, this album is perfection. It’s not for everyone, but I think that’s why I consider it a guilty pleasure. It’s too poppy for the Bro crowd, but all the same you know they’re toe-tapping when “You Get What You Give” comes on the radio. And it will make sense when you realize Gregg lives on by co-writing a pop hit for Michelle Branch or a few tunes for the underrated film “Begin Again” by John Carney, the Director of “Once”.
Further Reading: AV Club – New Radicals’ only hit “You Get What You Give” was secretly influential