There’s a certain type of twitchy, anxious music that a fan from the early ’90s remembers (and fetishizes), a darker edge to the pre-alternative nation musical landscape. When sociopathic giants like Big Black, Laughing Hyenas, Jesus Lizard, and Unsane walked the earth, the shadow of the Birthday Party loomed large over every tormented guitar lick. The lyrical content was every bit as insalubrious and misanthropic as the music, an insomniac, grinding roar issuing forth from the most nervous pit of your stomach, yet it had this odd, very physical thrust and groove to it and lyrics were delivered in a pained screech or a series of disconcerting tics. The overall impression is that these are not nice people and this is not nice music that could soundtrack happy memories and success in life.
There’s a new group of standard bearers now. Pop. 1280 absolutely revels in the horror of it all, and The Horror is a resolutely ugly gash of sound as the result. Bad vibes and noir moods never relent, driven along by shrieking, spooky guitar lines and the best detuned bass groove I’ve heard since David J on Bela Lugosi’s Dead. The NYC quartet brings both the nastier edge of goth music and the AmRep legacy unwillingly into the 21st century, and though it’s ugly as fuck, you sure as hell can dance to it. Album highlights include the explosive “Crime Time,” “Beg Like a Human,” with a crawling, itchy boogie that leaves both listener and creator utterly debased, and “Dogboy,” dead-eyed, ‘luded Iggy Pop proud.
Recommended for Birthday Party and Christian Death fans who want to do a “Scared Straight” thing to all the young fresh-faced kids who keep trying to take away their music. NOT FOR THE WELL-ADJUSTED.
Sacred Bones: sacredbonesrecords.com