NOTE: For the full, extended reviews, click on the album titles.
March 2014 has been a month of wonderfully morbid records to cover, featuring celebrations of death, blood-infused records and an album almost as short as one of the singles reviewed.
Anybody having read the album title Say Yes to Love, expecting the ‘Careless Whisper’ of the 21st Century is in for a nasty noise-punk surprise from Perfect Pussy. As it turns out, the New York five-piece have a far louder, niche definition of love. With a stream of noise sounding so low-fi, it’s no less intimate, but frighteningly brutal.
Opening with the rapid tick of an old tape recorder, Say Yes to Love makes no secret of just how carelessly rough it is. ‘Interference Fits’ is perhaps the defining track title, as each track sounds like a poor-quality distress signal, as vocalist Meredith Graves forces unintelligible fury from behind a dense wall of static, as though she is screaming her throat red raw, from a few rooms away.
What they were doing to that poor pussy we may never know, but she sounds so pained that that is best kept a secret.
Gavin and his bandmates are lifeless and skeletal after the parasites got the munchies. The funny thing is, he isn’t quite as upset about it than you might have thought. I’m Dead is often less a slow and mournful funeral precession, and more an energetic gymnastic tumble through the cemetery into an open grave.
Light rock energy is channeled playfully into the titular opener, ‘I’m Dead’. Its hopping guitars, skipping drum beat, and jumping trumpet, seemingly pulled straight out of ska, make the song that promised to keep you deadly still, full of head-bobbing glory.
However, come the end of penultimate track ‘Peace at Last’, they are screaming blue murder. Yet their often, sparse jam-like sound still seems in good fun. Glimmermen don’t intend to rest in peace. I’m Dead‘s hangout feel portrays the image of passing by a friend’s house to say “Oh, by the way guys, I’m dead. Wanna jam?”
Most tracks show off a new love affair with a celestial sounding glockenspiel. Some are perhaps as close as a pop song may get to the sound of a music box, and its twinkles are even collided with garbled glitches during ‘Food For the Beast’.
However, this is a far lighter concoction than it sounds, and quite often Animal Heart is neither-here-nor-there with its style, as token electronic effects take the calmness from the ballads, or aren’t prominent enough in more energetic tracks, leaving behind relatively limp piano pop-rock. The upbeat ‘Jungle’ is one of few tracks to really put the synth to use, without sounding like a sprinkling of sci-fi sound effects. Still, despite the robotic chaos, it is unusually calm.
A track may be entitled ‘The Grand Destruction Game’, yet it, nor any of its fellow tracks are particularly grand, nor destructive, and are far more relaxing than they are much fun.
The way that their ‘experimental pop’ drills even the coolest and calmest of sounds into listeners skulls amidst chaos akin to metallers having left their guitars to buzz after a ten-minute set closer, says that they are just as furious.
A running theme is for vocals to be low in the mix, with varying degrees of distortion, beneath a garble of deep noise and plinky sounds comparable to a baby’s clockwork toys, despite clearly not intending to lull anyone to sleep. Distorted whispers leave an overpowering crackle that one might expect onstage were a frontman screaming “London! Make some fucking noise! Jump!” as opposed to the actual, not quite so thrilling subject – “I woke up and went for a walk”.
The mystery of ‘experimental’ squashed into the confines of four-minute ‘pop’ leads to an album dense enough that it is fit to burst. Longer tracks show Ghost Twins’ ambient potential, but squeezing as many radio-unfriendly noises into radio-friendly length songs forms a bit of a mess.
It is a sound like waking up to another day in the crumbling remnants of a war zone, but the conflicts outdoors are shrugged off by the androgynous voice of Hannah Reid, as personal matters take precedence over the fallout outside, and the tally of days that her partner has been missing, is added to. At least that is one way that the minimal lyrics of ‘Hey Now’, which is about as sparse and calm as a song, that features the scattered rattles of snare fill, reminiscent of echoing gun fire from afar, can be.
It takes until the final minute for a full beat to enter, yet the track is chilled out and ethereal enough that it seems wrong to call the rest of ‘Hey Now’ a ‘build-up’. The deep hum of electronic bass and the infinitely reverberated pluck of guitars makes any beautiful moment ideal for anyone to sink comfortably back into bed to.