The Ceiling Stares is a project that represents a freewheeling, indie-rock dialogue subject to the conceptual masterplans of Stephen Patchan. Each release is tailored around carefully curated artistic parameters.
The latest entry in this artistic continuum, ‘Wicked Problem,’ is a punchy, synth-rock aesthetic, and thematically explores a bevy of existential terrors with vulnerability, a literate flair, lacerating social commentary, clever wordplay, and playful cultural references.
The album’s leadoff single, Wicked Problem, is an innovative melding of post-punk hypnotic starkness and lush electronica. The track’s overall sonic quality is cavernous. The song is sparse and drum and vocal-driven, and coloring these primary pieces are trippy ambient textures and vibrantly infectious melodies. The song nods to early Wire, setting the stage for more obvious homages later in the album including the Eagles and Pavement. Listen to the single via SoundCloud below.
Thematically, the song is playfully dark and indirectly vulnerable. “There isn’t a narrative thread through the song,” Stephen clarifies. “It’s more about snippets of life that can trigger anxiety that can snowball into scary shit. I’m intrigued by the idea of a wicked problem, or a problem that has no solution, only mitigation. At the same time, I try to juxtapose that concept next to more lighthearted and somewhat veiled shout outs to Nikki Six, Frank Black, God and Satan.”
“These albums are snapshots,” Stephen shares. “I like to grab ideas and topics and write songs about them. Sometimes, I’m playing with ideas; sometimes, I’m making a statement; sometimes, I’m seeing the humor in things; and, sometimes, I see the devastating effects. I like being heavy, but also smirking at the same time—I don’t take myself that seriously.”
‘Wicked Problem’ is a self-described synth-rock album bursting with visceral, tightly-arranged songs designed for live performance. The album is influenced by Brian Eno, Vangelis, Chromatics, and the “It’s A Small World” ride at Disneyland. “I love how the music bleeds together between sections of that ride,” Stephen says.