Review Summary: The art of disorganisation.
Many intriguing peculiarities have risen up from Canada lately. Starting with the likes of Preoccupations and Ought and ending with more recent and deeper underground genre-benders like Frigs. And much to the two aforementioned bands’ similarity, Frigs too use disjointed instrumentation and frenzied vocals in their fusion of vaguely-melodic noise punk and subtle post-punk, yet still having that disaffectionate, slightly lo-fi shaky sound.
Intriguing could not get a better example than this album’s opening track, “Doghead”. The song blasts with oddball rhythmic instrumentation and tongue-in-cheek vocals, which at times bug me a little, as I cannot decipher, whether they belong to a man or a woman. It goes on with a subdued rage only apparent through the very rough hoarse vocals, but it blasts out into sharp drumming and guitar chaos.
Afterwards the album devolves into a sizzling, crackling, clatter-gagging, meandering, sporadic, dense beast with froggish vocals. “Talking Pictures” is a much more straightforward song, but still with that outlandish freakishness displayed before. But “Waste” turns back to the creeping viciousness and slowly, densely building anti-tuneful nightmare. The song kicks off mildly enough (almost unremarkably, considering the nature of the rest of the album), but after a quick break the instrumentation changes from emotionally distant to flat-out menacing, while the vocals turn more hasty and harrowing. However, the song doesn’t burst into well-expected crash-landing pay-off, but rather disintegrates into something non-descript and off-colour.
And that brings us to the album’s flaws. There are rarely any satisfying pay-offs. The band leads you on almost every time with their hair-raising atmosphere and occasional build-ups, but none of it comes to flourish and truly bloom. “Solid State” goes on now particularly excitingly and fades away just as awkwardly, while “Gemini” is an overlong ambient-ish interlude, even if much more pleasant than most of the other songs. Talking about both awkward and ambient interludes, “I” offers an equal amount of nothing and is more or less the thematic continuation of “Gemini”, except somehow with even less going on. Essentially, throughout those two songs you are only getting prepared for something more striking to come in form of “II”. “II” is not the most experimental and obscure cut and especially after the two toneless oddities before it, this seems like a full-on pop-hit (not really, but it’s just that it comes as a digestible relief), while still sustaining that weird method of ending songs on nothing substantial.
The three closing track are a welcome throwback to the off-kilter experimental genre-fusing animalistic experience promised by the first triumvirate. But they still all feel more or less like fractions of what they could have been, had the band not taken the feverish decision to numb it all down to a motionless cadaver, and actually given it some emotional weight.
This album is a strange precedent, where a naturally captivating oddity of a style is quickly turned disillusioning and frustratingly vapid. It is obvious that the band had a stylistic vision in mind, but that vision didn’t end up anywhere. And in the end you just sit there and observe this album getting slower and weaker track by track. Disenchantment from a purposefully enchantment lacking album. How fitting.