04 May, 2013

Recent Love (Nothin' but a Load of Bloody Irish Bollocks Edition)

Girl Band, France 98
Buckle up and fix a cocktail, kids: This record is fucking loud. Good goddamned wall of noise fuck you rock.
I was hipped to this record by Jake, the Welsh (and therefore questionable) half of Pink City and one third of She Ripped, when he posted about them on his wall. If you're new to these parts, you should know that those two bands I just noted are bands that I really like, so I'm inclined to trust Jake's judgment... even if he is Welsh.
Now, I'm late to the party on this record, as I generally am with most music, but not as late as usual; this came out last October. Chances are you probably already know about this thing. You might already be listening to it. And, if you are, good on you.
Anyway, I heard this record for the first time a week after the review I did for China's Pussy, you know, last week, and not only have I been floored at how much good noise rock I've been hearing these past few weeks, Girl Band are currently blowing up my headphones, in tight contention with China, actually. But I'm only kind of not exaggerating when I say they're blowing up my headphones. France 98 is loud as all fuck, nearly deafening me as I gave it a first proper listen while drinking a bloody mary on the patio and read The Torture Garden, a book which, by itself, is already a brainsplitter. Pick up where you left off reading beautiful descriptions in translated French about the foliage while listening to "You're a Dog" at full blast - and believe me, the only reason your brains don't run out your other ear is because the other earphone blasting them back in (just not back into place) - and it will make sense when you "meat" the little Buddha man who rearranges (live) people's body parts just chilling in the garden, wiping off his saws. It will make sense. (In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if there's any other way this record could be enjoyed, but I'm a pretentious sodding git like that.)
But by the third listen, my ears had already adjusted to the punishment. Sure, I should've turned it down but hey.
So we've established that this record is loud but is the volume warranted? Yes, it is. With maybe one or two exceptions, this record wouldn't work with understated acoustic pieces. "Second One" could be on the band's MTV Unplugged set if A) Girl Band were slick MTV bullshit material and B) MTV even had music on it anymore. (To be honest, that last bit might be unfair; I haven't watched MTV in years but I'm pretty sure that the reason last year's return of Beavis and Butt-Head poked fun at reality shows more than videos had to do with M(usic)T(ele)V(ision)'s lack of music programming.) "Handswaps", immediately after "Second One", deals with quiet-quiet-quiet build ups but is still, well, loud. You get me? Aside from those two, though, you can't really play these songs in a subdued quiet manner.
That's not saying that Girl Band are using threshold-of-pain volumes as a gimmick, no. The type of music they're making pretty much requires that decibel level. That is to say, if it wasn't loud, it wouldn't sound right.
And how does it sound? Well, take the opener, "You're a Dog". This is the drunken hip-swinger on the record, the ass-shaker. It really dares you to not dance, even if you dance badly. You're going to want to climb the damned furniture and jump off of it. And it's also one of those openers that makes you wonder, "Can the rest of the record be this good?"
Thank fuck, yes.
"Busy at Maths" is just as fun, just as memorable, but brings the tempo down and gives us an in-out-hi-hat swing more suited for scissor or reverse cowgirl fucking than for jumping around like a maniac. I mean, it has a melotron on it. How you going to smash anything when there's a melotron? No, that's an instrument a band uses for when they want you to toke a hookah and/or fuck.
"That Snake Conor Cusack" is perfect for that midtown traffic-dodging bike ride and the title track is the last thing you want to hear in the middle of a bad trip; if mclusky's "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues" had an Irish cousin that drank more, had homemade knuckle tattoos, ate speed at a consumption level to rival Lemmy's or Hunter's, and had a batshit crazy girlfriend with two vehicular assault convictions to her name, it would be "France 98".
The last two "quiet" (in quotes because it's really only by comparison) songs are down right beautiful to listen to. "Second One" is actually very relaxing, the valley amid all the peaks, and "Handswaps" is the big epic closer that every record tries to have, the difference is that, out of all the big epic closing numbers ever, "Handswaps" belongs in the minority of those songs categorized as being "done right". The elements are all there, the cathedral echo and the brief and conservative flashes of psychedelia and techno sub-bass booms.
You can drink to this, you can dance to this, you can fuck to this, you can road rage to this, and, yes, if you find yourself in the position to do so, you can read gory 19th century political satire written employing the collage technique. I might not recommend that last one, I'm just saying that it worked for me. Maybe it will work for you, too. I reckon the best way to find out is to go check it out.

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