Review Summary: "live fast. die hard. drink blood. fuck all."the grain of the wood
on the floor flowering into the music, each fiber,
each splinter, until the tree
Ryan McMullen makes unsettling music, & that MAY or MAY NOT have something to do with the fact that Rev. John MAY or MAY NOT have killed a man. It's a mouthful. A mouthful of glass. A band of Stooges. The ***ing Hotlights.
There is an apparent tension throughout. Picture this, if you will. Ryan McMullen being musically coerced out of a meticulously wrapped package, emerging--handfirst, & gripping a glass liquor decanter--live at The Pink; eyes a shade of blood burgundy, lip-servicing stained verses, tongue-kissing scorched refrains. "High Society Torture Party" is a less self-involved equivalent of that; HIDE YOUR DAUGHTERS.
You get the feeling that every nuance has been tempered. The ***ing Hotlights' sound drenched in filth, slithering our of the gutter; champing at the bit, & intentionally so. "Revival", for instance--at the 2:03 mark--settles into a slow, metallic churning, tight-roping the pent-up aggression of the song's prior moments. This energy is, if anything, consistent throughout. Even when the band showcases a more "cheerful" side, as is the case 41 seconds into "Afterall, I am the Caretaker", it's relentlessly so; "On, & on, & on, & on..." It's this thinly veiled dementia that The ***ing Hotlights so successfully use as a converging point, each track pivoting from this established base, plastered, & frolicking straight to the slaughter, with a pep in their step(s); see "Sugarbaker".
This alcohol-bingeing, hard rock haze consistently threatens to bury itself, but, thankfully, the listener is offered moments of reprieve in the form of rationed, pockets of sound. Be it a brief breather afforded by a slowed/halted instrumental segue, or the more endearing antics of McMullen's vocalwork; check his wispy higher register early on in "Awful Ends", or the vulnerable quiver initiating "Warehouse", or the shamelessly entertaining ornamentation at the 1:20 mark of "No Glory". It's calculated, & concise; "Cavity! Cavity!"
The cover art: floral, watercolored parchment, gatefolded, & unveiling its warmth; I wanna fight. It's beautiful, really. All the more fitting once "Hammering of the Goldbeaters" graces the ear canals. The song stumbles forth in a thick, throated grumble, before being undercut by squealed guitar textures, & spunky drum rhythms. The tandem collects itself, making way for melodic riffage, & McMullen spouting such inspired lines as, "Come on, baby. Let's drink his blood, & never go to bed"; the sounds coming together for a more poignant musical assault. All members seem on the verge of exhaustion, punctuated by cracking vocals, gang-chanting, & revived instrumental progression. The howling, & groaning is indicative of more than just delirium. The shriek of noise at the 2:01 mark? It's just noise. But, it could've been anything. Sax, violin, piano, MORE NOISE, ambiance, silence, or what have you. The palette is open, & willing. Surging forward, clutching the coattails of jumpy, impassioned guitar chords, it's curious that the build-up has taken this long to come to fruition. The bands first proper release doesn't see its first "proper" release until the 2:34 mark of the closing track, & it's worth every gutted note that's preceded it. Alluring melodies sway towards the forefront, the melody turning in on itself, & repeating. The bassline cradling the stamped processing of drums, signaling the release. Instantly, the melody seems orchestrated by the drum fills, seated in bass. I could listen to it all day, but The ***ing Hotlights aim to make you squirm. Immediately, the cover becomes a foreshadowing. Guitar, drum, bass, & vocals swirl in a ghosted drone of their former selves. The music is spent, in its final moments, flitting, & twitching for dear life. Plainly stated, it just sounds
I'm going home. I'm going home. I'm starting an official petition to change the band's name to "Velvet Elvis, & the Wooly Bullies". The ***ing Hotlights are O.D.-ing on the American Dream.
Why don't you join them.
* Lynda Hull, Red Velvet Jacket