ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: MARIANNE TOILET AND THE RUNS – JUVENILELY NUTS, ARTISTICALLY SPELLBINDING
By: Andrew Geano
Where do I begin. Marianne Toilet and the Runs are a deliciously demented comedy rock group that employs a sense of humor that you would like to think we’ve all long since grown out of. Unfortunately for us moralizers, the juvenile and irreverent musings of these four crazed Bostonians are just as infectious and perennial as the great, well crafted rock beats and melodies that make up the music. Marianne Toilet and the Runs treats comedy music as all great satirists should treat their craft — as if it’s no joke.
The first song of theirs I listened to was called “Tourettes.” Before I even hit play, I wanted to be offended. Like, I really, really, REALLY wanted to be offended. I went in thinking “Oh great, what’s this gonna be about? Making fun of Tourette’s syndrome?” But to my virtuous dismay, I began tapping on my desk and swaying my head almost instantly to the insanely catchy slew of power-pop chords and classic rock drums. To make matters worse for my moral compass, I realized the song’s target was not those with any disease, but rather people who were instantly offended by the concept without even listening to the song first.
With my sense of righteousness wounded, I felt it was incumbent upon me to further open my mind and really try to understand the aesthetic of this band. I think I finally figured them out upon listening to “Lawnmowing” which describes the gelding of a man with the gregarious chant “I lost my balls in a lawn mowing accident…” (wait for it)… “I lost my balls in a lawn mowing accident.”
Son of a bitch. This stupid song instantly became stuck in my head. The melody line was just too infectious — a beautiful, minor-key refrain of deep, soulful regret and loss. It was the type of musical strain reminiscence of an ole’ Irish shanty, where the patrons come down to ye olde local pub and sing and chant away their sorrow while drowning themselves in hops and suds. But wait, this was about a dude’s balls. Being lost in a lawn mowing accident. And what’s this? I’m laughing and singing along??
And therein lies the true joy of Marianne Toilet and the Runs. Like all successful musical satirists — from Tom Lehrer to Weird Al Yankovic to Flight of the Concords — comedy acts are beholden perhaps more than any other genre to deliver big time in terms of the music. Marianne and “her,” uh, associates are incredibly gifted at crafting huge power-pop hooks, catchy melodies, and possess a truly wonderful knack of getting the most jaded fuddy-duddy to smile at the stupidest of punch lines. And that, my friend, is no joke.