This is one of those Kinks records that just went sailing over people's heads. The idea of a rock star gradually becoming a mediocre nobody is the stuff of genius. It's about the oppressive sameness of the masses, and just think about it for a second. What does the expression "keep it real" mean? I can tell you. It means "don't think you're better than the 'hood. Stay undeducated and lame and watch TV and listen to weak rap numbers that denigrate women in a predictable style." Real real.
Ray Davies nailed it all those years ago: We're not a culture of individualists, by any means.. We're all about conformity. He just puts it out there, straight, no chaser. We should ask ourselves: How much have we "settled" over the years? How much has identifiable product overwhelmed the process of choice? To my knowledge, this is the only album that has ever addressed the question.
What Ray Davies does here is illustrate, from his own coast, how the weight of just "fitting in" can crush anyone, even a genius. The moral: Don't fit In! And Ray never did. Melodically as well, this has some of the greatest tunes ever generated. The actual CD closer (not the one on the extended version) has had me in tears.
This is a very, very brilliant album. I wouldn't use the word "silly" for any of it. Ironic, in high Shakespearean style, is more appropriate. It is, in its way, a fully fleshed out version of "I'm not like everybody else," which is hilariously used non-ironically in a commercial these days. Don't they get it? They are ALL like everybody else! That's what the song is about.
Irony 101 for all ad execs. Mandatory. (Oh yeah, and I know folks have noted that "Lust for Life" by Iggy is being used to promote family values. I have lived this long?)
Finally, if the above all sounds daunting....Soap Opera also great fun to listen to. Good singing, good playing, melodies and hooks galore, wit, intelligence, and Ray Davies's voice. And a spectacular foray into the mind of the 20th Century Ape-Man.