LP, Geodesic Records, 2018
“Everything is cool when you don’t care” the band collectively shouts on the brief, blistering album opener “No”, commentary on the desire to feel indifferent through the chaos of political turmoil. On their debut long-player, the Houston quartet explores apathy, disconnectedness and the loss of relationships through their sludgy post-hardcore.
The first thing that stands out is the production; the guitars sound so thick it’s as if their scuzzy amps are right there in the room with you. I’m not sure if the album was recorded live to analogue tape but if not they could’ve fooled me. The second track “Swipe” is an obvious allusion to Tindr and the way we try to present ourselves and gain self-esteem through technology and social media (“Must be seen. Must be pretty. Maximize Utility. ..I’ve got a match I’m feeling good”). Midway through the song, everything cuts out to a gloomy guitar riff, which is shortly joined by bass and drums for a dark, driving bridge that builds and builds to a noisy wall of sound. On the mid-tempo “Khandaan”, the Urdu word for family, the lyrics tell of a profound loyalty to someone, regardless of being on strained terms with them; perhaps a sibling to whom the narrator said some things they wish they could take back. The song kicks into a bouncy pop-punk beat in which the vocalists sing “I’ll be there for you, if you want me to” in a call and response style. This culminates into an atmospheric, shoegazing buildup with dense layers of delayed guitars. The side closes on the brooding instrumental, “Nafrat”. This track recalls Mogwai with its rainy, grey atmospheres. Instead of vocals, the song is filled with samples of news segments describing the Charlottesville protests, where a white supremacist plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters and tragically killed Heather Heyer.
After an appropriate moment of silence, side B begins with “Vice” a vague post-punk reflection on addiction that decelerates into a polyrhythmic breakdown with an irritated beehive of noisy guitars. The penultimate track “Liquid” is a welcome change of pace with its slow, heavy groove and psychedelic atmospheres of delayed guitars and smoky feedback. The atmosphere lifts suddenly and, after a short guitar intro, goes into a bouncy beat with interlocking guitar and bass licks. One of the great things about this band is how well they work as a unit, with their shared vocal duties and unison riffs, no individual member ever grabbing the spotlight for himself. The album closer demonstrates this aptly, with the guitars and bass playing a slow, monolithic riff in unison underneath lyrics of coming to terms with a failed relationship. An emotive, dissonant guitar soloing over a heavy crescendo ends the album with a feeling of that beautiful catharsis that comes with finally letting go.