HOPE FREAKS - Pre (Skin Graft Records)
Perhaps it is a cliché by now, but the second album by these London noise-punkers could not have a more appropriate title than “Hope Freaks.” It rattles forth in deafening, ear-gouging screeches courtesy of singer Akiko Matsuura, while the 2-bass wielding attack is not meant to set a groove, but rather slice and dice anything in its path with vicious ferociousness. If you had the music playing at a party of hipsters, it will clear the room as fast as a transsexual stripper.
Pre reminds one of the first generation no-wave rockers without the arty pretense. Both sharing the same characteristics of spastic noise and confrontational sound of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, while sharing the same configuration of Melt Banana by simply playing speedy while melody and songwriting mostly takes a backseat. It takes you back to a time in which rock n’ roll was about being passionately reckless and was still held in taboo by many. That’s precisely why one loves it so much!
Epic Fits rushes off the line like a track runner and tramples anything in its path with its hurtling energy. The screecher, "Gang of Wires", starts this exorcism off and the first audible sound is the exclamation, “AHHHHHH,” and it makes one think of opening your mouth at the dentist’s office. When the music bashes on and spreads itself around with that vociferation, it takes on the feeling of something hammering away at your teeth.
The next song, "Haircut Tacos", creates a pleasurable, swooning feeling with a sense of disarray and Matsuura once again inaudible, but immaculacy fitting in with the brash of the instruments that gleeful takes on the form of dangerous weapons. This sense of aggression and inattention to the ’normal’ method of clear vocals and structure in musicianship is something again not seen as often as wanted since the early days of punk and noise. However, despite the praise that has been heaped upon this album in this write up, it must also be noted that the weak points of such a record can sometimes lie in its bright spots, as well.
When an album relies on energy and not much else, it must be gauged on the pure sensory level. In other words, when the listener is not feeling energetic, the album does not offer that much. While one may not help but tap their foot to the instrument hookiness of "Teenage Lakes", this sense of accessibly is spread thin, and other offerings such as "The Junk", "Why Be Wives", and "The Love Crunch", don't offer that same rush. You might run out of patience for the final few tracks and the mid-way instrumental feels like generic fodder. Another issue one has is that the album is honestly a bit forgettable when it’s over.
Nevertheless, one must admit that since the album is so short (a scant 20 minutes for 11 songs) the flaws are not as great as it would have been if the album were the normal length of an LP, at about twice that run time. This sense of brevity makes one recommend wholeheartedly Pre’s "Hope Freaks". It is the type of music to listen to when you want to OD from adrenaline.
- Nick Schwab
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