HEALTH
Health


4.0
excellent

Review

by Simon STAFF
May 29th, 2016 | 39 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Sporadic structures, odd melodies, a hostile soundscape: these are the key traits of HEALTH's 2007 debut LP, and a far cry from HEALTH's latest offering, Death Magic. So different in fact, it's like comparing Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory with Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica. If one were to stumble upon Max Payne 3's "Tears" single and became intrigued to check out their discography - for more of the same high-octane electronics, drum beats and slickly garnished vocal melodies completing the bodywork of the song - HEALTH would be a very grave and intimidating entry to begin with if they weren't into this kind of thing.

The album borders on avant-garde, with no real structure involved in the LP's near 29 minute run time. When you've only listened to HEALTH a couple of times it first comes across as one long, experimental song. This alone stacks against the casual listener sticking with the album, but when you include the fact that - with the exception of "Perfect Skin" - Jake is almost completely mute on the record, and the most you'll get out of vocal work is a few elongated words, saturated in the band's trademark reverb dominated melancholy, it will no doubt create a daunting barrier for most people. It's a good job then that the band bring such an engaging level of interesting ideas to encompass an extremely unique sound. "Perfect Skin" is about as normal as this album gets, and is a slow, moody offering, where Jake delivers a haunting vocal performance in front of fuzzy, punchy bass, pounding drums and moody guitars. Semi-digestible tracks like "Crimewave" will hook you in, if only for the impressive display of rapid and energetically played drums that are being pulled to the forefront of the track. "Triceratops" has some catchy moments, and for a while, holds a somewhat conventional structure.

But this album isn't meant to follow a straight line, and if you're not familiar with this style of music, or your will isn't strong enough to sustain what HEALTH throw at you, you will probably hate this. The high pitched screams found on "Crimewave", "Tabloid Sores" and "Courtship", melded with screeching feedback from the guitars, will raise a few eyebrows, as they just jump out of nowhere. But the unpredictable, visceral and animal nature of HEALTH is what makes it so damn interesting to listen to; you just never know where the songs are going to go next. The 29 minute length also ensures your attention is absolute throughout, because, blink, and you'll miss it. Its free-flowing nature makes it difficult to really pinpoint which songs are which, because it moves so fast in such a short amount of time, you find yourself trying to catch up to it.

BJ's drumming is the biggest asset to the band on here; he's always had a very distinct sound and style on all of HEALTH's records, and is the driving force on everything they create, but it's here where he's needed most. The drums are chaotic, blisteringly hard hits that stand you to attention from the moment the album opens up; "Crimewave" is a prime example of how he can go from slow, bulldozing punches, to unhinged, schizophrenic bursts of raw energy, and it leaves you in awe listening to it. The reverb guitars that are used so heavily these days are on here, albeit not quite as prevalent; Jake and Jupiter seem more focused on using effects on this outing, and they can create really big, atmospheric passages in songs like "Zoothorns" - or the Dust Brothers inspired sounds of "Glitter Pills". There's also a glimmer of the depressing tones of future works in the last two tracks of the album.

Overall, if you're looking at getting in to this band I'd suggest starting from Death Magic and working your way down to this. It's a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but it's not for everyone. The sporadic changes, redundance of structure and obscure vocal parts, for the majority of the LP, make it difficult to recommend to everyone. But if you go in half knowing what to expect, this has buckets of enjoyment to offer you.

Excellent.

Editions: Vinyl, C̶D̶, M̶P̶3̶

Packaging: Standard.

Special Edition: N/A



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LA-bred noise rock band blends a multitude of influences in a compact package....



Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2016


15240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As always, constructive criticism welcome.

kylemccluskey
May 29th 2016


177 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I would instead punctuate your opening sentence as such:

Sporadic structures, odd melodies, and a hostile soundscape: these are the...



as well as:

but when you include the fact that aside from "Perfect Skin", Jake is almost completely mute on the record, and the most you'll get out of vocal work is a few elongated words, saturated in the band's trademark reverb-dominated melancholy--it will no doubt create a daunting barrier for most people.



and lastly:

and they can create really big, atmospheric passages in songs like "Zoothorns", or the Dust Brothers-inspired sounds of "Glitter Pills".



also, I believe it's 'borders', not 'boarders', at the beginning of the second paragraph.

and it should be 'half-knowing', not 'half knowing', in the last sentence.



as for the actual content of your review, I think it's good, and I generally agree with your statements. I myself however, really didn't find it that hard to get into--in fact, it was enthralling right out of the gate for me--but that might have a lot to with musical background. I also am going to strongly disagree with the fact that you should approach HEALTH via Death Magic in reverse chronological order; their self-titled is by far their best, In Color is weaker but still worthwhile, and Death Magic just causes me to involuntarily throw-up in my mouth--but I guess it's a matter of taste.



anyway, twas a good read man. cheers.

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
May 29th 2016


14239 Comments


good review as always man, cheers

Digging: Xiu Xiu - Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks

PumpBoffBag
May 29th 2016


936 Comments


yeah this sounds interesting, may give a listen.
Also, some confusion on your/ you're, 3rd paragraph

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2016


15240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn, can't believe I didn't notice half of these typos haha. Cheers guys.



@kylem I myself don't find it that hard to get my head around, but the review is aimed at people who heard "Tears", say, and then wanted to see what else they had to offer; in that mindset, going in to listen to this first is a no, no, because it holds very little of the same characteristics the later HEALTH stuff does. And listening to DM first is the safer bet because it's by far the most accessible from their discog, Get Color is inbetween and then there's this.

Snide
May 29th 2016


7050 Comments


Hey Gonzo do you think I'd like this?
I've been trying to get into more noise related music

parksungjoon
May 29th 2016


9354 Comments


^ pretentious and antisocial as usual

Snide
May 29th 2016


7050 Comments


@Ov: Only reason I didn't just Youtube it is because I'm on my phone right now and I don't want to use that much data, so I was asking Gonzo if it was worth checking out when I got off my phone. I read his review and it sounded interesting to me.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2016


15240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm not huge on the whole noise rock genre tbh, but I love what these guys do. Definitely check out get color, because it blends this me death Magic together - the best of both worlds.

Snide
May 29th 2016


7050 Comments


I'll give that a whirl man; thanks!

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2016


15240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No worries man. Drop us a msg and let us know what you thought when you do.

Snide
May 29th 2016


7050 Comments


We Are Water is my favorite on Get Color so far, it's a really weird listen but I dig some parts of it.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2016


15240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

We are water is an absolute tune.

Tunaboy45
May 29th 2016


16734 Comments


Max Payne 3 is still my favourite thing they've done.

Digging: PUP - Morbid Stuff

parksungjoon
May 29th 2016


9354 Comments


shame the game wasn't that stellar

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
May 29th 2016


14239 Comments


it was pretty decent

got a bit repetitive but the game was pretty polished and smooth

could of been a lot worse, could of been a bit better

Tunaboy45
May 29th 2016


16734 Comments


I thoroughly enjoyed it, could've done with less cutscenes maybe but still a solid game.

parksungjoon
May 29th 2016


9354 Comments


much prefer the style and theme of the first two

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
May 29th 2016


14239 Comments


ah well ive never played them



parksungjoon
May 29th 2016


9354 Comments


the gameplay is at least as good, except the setting is basically a noir cop story and there's a lot of dark humour

fun fact: KILL's avatar on his profile page is the original max, before they made him a bearded chrome dome

i'd definitely recommend picking them up on a steam sale or something, they're cheap these days and super good



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