Review Summary: Debut album with potential but fails to stand up on it's own.
The Wipers were different from punk bands of the time, they were dark and had their own unique sound. Greg's guitar didn't blast out distortion from all levels, he contained it and thus recordings sounded more like a DIY demo that a band full of teenagers would put out. However this is higher quality than what a bunch of brainless teens could put out. The mix of the album is simple and this is the sound that inspired so many punk bands out there today (including Nirvana, you can hear the Wipers influence straight through them).
The Wipers were total outcasts, they enjoyed playing fast punk but also realised that a pop song was just as good. They realised that not every song needs to be fast, there had to be some slow songs in there to balance it out. Later on in their career they learned that songs don't need to be short but they could expand on each song and make something no one else was doing at the time. The band never had any major recognition but their influence is relevant today and could be considered the beginning of early 'grunge' music. Though they are not a 'grunge' band, their sound made a superb impression on Kurt and Krist from Nirvana and the members of Mudhoney.
If this is all too much then listen to the song “D-7” and prepare yourself for the first ‘grunge’ song made. “D-7” is also the highlight of the album Is This Real?
, as soon as the song starts, the mood is eerie and dark until halfway through it turns frantic and helpless. Greg uses such passion in his singing and the guitar playing is totally unique for the time. The riff is simple but lays the ground for the entire composition and is a perfect piece for any beginning band that has any passion. For an album that's so hard-hitting, there also needs to be a hard-hitting opening song. "Return of the Rat" fills this void perfectly that again uses the simpliest of riffs. It's loud, catchy and just total fun. This album probably has the best first three tracks ever (okay, that‘s an exaggeration). Along with “Return of the Rat” is “Mystery”, a catchy fun pop song that’s easy for consumption and “Up Front” which knocks your teeth out with it’s melancholy chorus. For most of the album, everything is laid down so simple. It's an album to get into as soon as you throw it on, everything is laid down at a fast pace.
Sadly, this album is fun for the first while but soon after the songs become monotonous and identical. While the interesting parts hold up on their own, it becomes apparent they take the punk riff and rip it apart piece by piece. This album would be better if Greg Sage varied with his sound. The Wipers would do this later on but for their debut, they certainly kept a similar sound throughout. These collection of songs show potential and builds a foundation for a band that will go on and do so much more.