The obvious lede here is that the idea of Kimya Dawson releasing a children’s record seems somewhat redundant. Known first for her stint as one-half of the Moldy Peaches, and then known simply as the woman with the giant hair who sang all those songs that appeared in Juno, Dawson has been making child-like, if not childish, music for her entire career. Now the mother of a two-year-old, though, she’s decided, temporarily anyway, to ditch adult-oriented material altogether and try her hand at making a record meant specifically for kids.
Considering the penchant for bathroom humor displayed in her previous work (see the line “You shook a little turd out of the bottom of your pants” from ‘Anyone Else But You’), it’s not exactly surprising that she mines this territory repeatedly on Alphabutt. On the title track, for instance: “D is for doo-doo,” “S is for stinky,” and “Z is for farts that smell like the zoo.” She’s speaking to kids in a language they can understand, about things they can understand, which is admirable. But it’d be even better if she didn’t fall back on this particular crutch quite so often, if only because kids who can’t stop talking about shitting are the absolute worst.
And really, all that nonsense distracts from some pretty wonderful material. ‘Little Monster Baby’ sounds like it’s from the perspective of a toddler who’s pissed off that a baby sibling keeps fucking with his or her blocks. ‘Wiggle My Tooth’ is about a kid with a loose tooth and features the vocal accompaniment of a kid, presumably age three or four, who could grow up to be hip-hop’s next great hype man — this happens throughout the whole record: she’s got kids singing along with her the way kids might (a little bit delayed, obviously off-key), and it can be distracting, but I imagine it will only add to the fun for the intended audience.
There’s some genuinely touching stuff on Alphabutt, too. In ‘I Love You Sweet Baby’, two parents take great pleasure in the heavily detailed monotony of parenting, and ‘Happy Home (Keep Writing)’ is Dawson’s letter reassuring kids that things will work out for them in the end, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. She doesn’t talk down to kids, and more importantly, she spares them the horror of having to listen to all the poorly produced, digital-sounding crap that’s been turning kids, and eventually adults, into whiny, entitled jerks for years.