Okay, going from the origins of this band, to their first new material in a decade. This review is sort of cheating because I can't actually listen to the record, as it has that damn big hole shit going on. Who does that?
Assholes who want to be purposefully obtuse and awkward, thats who. But it did come with mp3 copies of the songs, which will have to do for now, I guess.
Opening with a chunky one-string rhythm, the production value alone belies the fact that it's been ten years since this band last put out a record. Those two notes alone sound richer, less tinny and distorted than much of the band's back catalogue. And that's by no mean a slight on the classic records, they sound perfect just the way they are. It's just that this sounds totally different. How the songs themselves sound, well, I'm getting to that.
'There's a machine between me and the page...' is the opening line from Spencer Moody, whose voice has grown from a youthful cracked yell into... well, much of the same. But there's a new-found world-weariness, sounding genuinely despondent on the chorus line of 'Every day I rise and no-one cares...'. It's a maturation from the youthful cries of a preacher's mouth with the rock n' roll heart.
When Leslie Hardy's forever-haunting organ kicks in at the 30-second mark, this starts to sound more like the band I love, like they never went away. The tone of the song is darker, more mournful than anything they ever recorded during their first go around, with the exception of parts of Thelema. It sounds like the decade away hasn't brightened their collective demeanour any.
Melvins co-drummer Coady Willis eschews his usual intricate patterns in favour of a relatively straightforward driving beat. With so much going on, from the two guitars and the organ, to Moody's howls, anything more complex would have sounded too busy. Everything about this song is perfectly judged.
B-side track 'Ball Busters In The Peanut Gallery' opens with Willis exhibiting some rhythmic flair, before warm, plaintive guitar strings are picked atop it. Fairground organ is laid over the whole thing for a couple of bars. Here comes that weird chill again. The energy level is way down on this song, but that's not a criticism.
It sounds like if the band had never called it quits, had kept plugging along for all these years playing dive bars and empty rooms, like they were determined to go down with a sinking ship.
Obviously that's not what did, or would have happened, it's just the feeling I get from the music, the strained vocal chords.
Just shy of two-minutes in, the track pauses for breath, the many layers of instruments each doing their own thing, none eclipsing the others. It sounds great. I'm not sure if it's something I'd listen to a whole lot of, but I can definitely appreciate that they didn't just throw together any old shit after all these years to give the fans something new. These sound like songs that needed to be sung, and this is the only band that could have ever played them. Nothing else sounds like this.
It is still kind of hard to associate this record with the songs I've been listening to for years, it's definitely the same band, but the feeling I get from these songs is completely different to the rush I feel hearing their older material. I guess it'll just take some time to sink in.
Order it from the band here: http://www.themurdercitydevils.com/