Review Summary: Gay For Johnny Depp display more proficiency and innovation in 15 minutes than many bands can in a whole career.
The wave of modern hardcore, it seems, will not be happy until every trace of innovation and ideological pessimism that once existed within the genre has been wrung out, like the last drizzle of piss out of an extremely well-worn towel. For every couple of bands that lead the way (Converge, Shai Hulud, Gaza) there’s at least five poor-to-average bands that try their hardest, but really amount to little more than annoyingly repetitive riffs, overused breakdowns and uninspired lyricism (Six Ft. Ditch, Dead Swans, This Is Hell). It’s not that these bands are ‘bad’ from a critical standpoint, it’s strictly that they call themselves ‘hardcore’ when really, the music should speak for itself. The music hasn’t changed that much over the years, but the attitude has. But then you have a band working in hardcore like Gay For Johnny Depp; a band who will offend you with not-too-subtle homoerotic subtext. A band who will make you chortle at their album names/ song titles. A band who existed purely to create angry, discordant, chaotic music that shies away from any preconceived notions of songwriting one may have. And, as seen here with their second release, it works.
It begins amicably enough- a jaunty, knee-slapping piano tune, accompanied by a decidedly off-key voice chirruping, ‘hey sailor, where you going? Hey sailor, who you blowing?’. The piano tones become more and more haphazard and tuneless, as a thudding noise mimics vocalist Marty Leopard’s increasingly hysterical repetition of ‘Hey!’ .The madness escalates as the loop grows faster and faster and eventually leads directly into the second track, the smirk-inducingly titled, ‘No Teeth Thumbs Up’. This is where the true music starts; in the form of Leopard screaming, ‘*** you! (I want to *** you)’, accompanied by the guitars playing in an almost conflicting harmony, and the drums making continuous use of fills every time Leopard repeats his profane mantra. It’s a powerful, vicious 1 and a half minutes that builds to a slow and dramatic conclusion. This is what Gay For Johnny Depp do impressively well; ridiculously frenzied music that still feels balanced in an off-kilter way. Such songs as ‘Nothing Worse Than A Whining Boy’ and ‘***ing Isn’t Cheating’ demonstrate a controlled lunacy; a veritable display of organized chaos, like the aural equivalent of Jackson Pollock’s art. The former begins with a tinny drumbeat, and soon after the bass, guitars, and vocals are introduced. Within thirteen seconds, all that is audible is a unmelodious bombardment of sound, accompanied by Leopard declaring, ‘I wanna *** my enemy!’ in feverish repetition. The dissonance of the music serves to make the hectic nature of the sound as a whole feel complete, like a single, psychopathic entity.
‘Shh Put The Shiv To My Throat’ is something of a standout, as it has a distinctly groovier tone than the rest of the album. The plodding drumbeat, tuneful guitars, and vocals clash almost violently, but through the use of definitive song sections, such as the bridge, which utilises a looping voice and the electronic whirr of studio equipment, and leads straight into the outro of the song, which is as gloriously berserk as the rest of the song. ‘Sex In Your Mouth’ also demonstrates this rage amidst a quiet restraint. At 57 seconds, it’s the shortest song on the release, but the ascending and then quickly descending rhythm paired with Leopard blaring ‘Suffer!’ over and over create a bizarre and menacing display of clout.
With a title as filthily tongue-in-cheek as Blood: The Natural Lubricant (An Apocalyptic Adventure Beyond Sodom and Gomorrah)
, it’s clear from the off what Gay For Johnny Depp’s intentions are. Their political incorrectness, distasteful attitude and jubilantly humorous approach to the genre serves as sort of an antithesis to it. The music is unintelligent and unsophisticated, but is still creative and caustic, despite being marred by its’ short length. In the final moments of ‘Sex In Your Mouth’, as soon as the music dies, and the band declares in unison ‘This is Johnny’s world!’, the listener is immediately reminded that the hardcore this band deals in is hardcore in name only. There’s none of the pretence, none of the misguided attitude- just pure, unadulterated chaos that’s both exciting and deliriously enjoyable.