The Impossible Shapes perform at Rubber Gloves on February 9.
If I somehow found myself in the clutches of a malevolent one-eyed despot who refused to let me rejoin my family in his poisonous custom-made dungeon lair unless I decided upon John Mellencamp or the Impossible Shapes as my favorite-ever Indiana-based musical artist, I'd have no problem whatsoever choosing Mellencamp in a jiffy. But those are pretty extraordinary circumstances, and despite the fact that they titled their recent fourth album We Like It Wild, Bloomington's Shapes aren't an extraordinary band; in fact, their mildly psychedelic, '60s-rooted guitar-pop is pretty damn average--the sound of Midwestern music geeks figuring that they can make a sound as vibrant as those on the records they pick up secondhand every Thursday afternoon after work at the university library. Only they can't, since context is working against them--try as they might, their music, totally free of pretension or sex or grit, will never transcend its boutique mom-and-pop status, the heights of which have already been scaled by those relative commercial titans the Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. Whether this means they toil in vain is up to you and your need to be plugged back into a vision of handmade, artisanal R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. that still prizes the long haul in three-minute bursts. A lonesome jubilee, ain't it?