Sweet Release of Death - Bulb

I am reminded of the (surely) apocryphal story that Terry Thomas told about a pie manufacturer in the Midlands, who, on being asked about the secret of his factory’s productivity, replied: “oh I don’t do anything difficult old boy. I just lean out of the window and shout, “Faster you fuckers!”

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Sometimes reviewing records drives you mad. I feel mad, angry, disappointed; because this is so nearly a great record. There are bits of sound on this, SROD’s début record, Bulb, that are choc-full of promise and colour and possibility; and bits invested with an energy that can easily be transmitted to the listener. You know, that sort of white hot, molten positivity that great records possess, the sort of noise that is easily transferred, almost intravenously to you the listener. The sort ofstuff that makes some woolly old fools like me all emotional and write that “washing away the bad stuff/throwing open the gates of heaven” bullshit that Billy Drummond wrote about the Bunnymen. And then there are bits that make me want to tear my hair out. But not quite. I want them to go back and sort stuff. Only because it’s teetering on the edge of being really, really good, you ken? But it isn’t quite enough and so I’m finding myself stuck on a rope stretched across a canyon with some twit in a wheelbarrow, just like Blondin, wondering how I’m going to pull this one off with the minimum of trouble. I could just patronise the band and release with a nice review and drop the odd hint. Because, because – oh fuck it balls, sod it who cares, go and listen to it.  

But no, that’s balls Foster, say it. Otherwise you’re as guilty as the band.

Ok.

Like some tramp at the emergency dentist’s whose turned up to get his teeth out in one go to save the bills, let’s get the bad bits done and then revel in the afterglow. Band. Outside of some bits of 30 Dances, sort the vox band. Sort the phrasing. Sort the message. I do not like lyrics that obviously mean sod all; actually lots of people don’t. Even if it means sod all there should be enough for us to allow it to mean something, or whistle along to it, or enough that allows it to mean something away from the original message; savvy?  I don’t like abstract metaphorical English because it says nothing to me about my life. It’s a short cut to nowhere. Leave that stuff with John Donne and Andrew Marvell. I can’t see the context. What do you want to say? WHY must you die in a fire? Why? What’s this guff about ripping hearts out? You’re not butchers. Try to engage me. Push the vocals, push them till you hate them, wrestle them to the ground, take them to the bottom of the sacred river, see Newton chain’d in servitude and lassitude there, decide it’s not for you and then bring your words fresh anointed with the truth of what you really want to say back to the surface; and then, on the bank, panting, triumphant, feel the steady calm of victory descend upon you.

OK. Let’s talk about the best bits. Sweet Release of Death have been in the periphery of my vision for a while, and I’ve always dug their noise in abstract but listening to them has been akin to looking at one of those flickering TV sets. Just when you think you’ve got something the screen once again resorts to a mass of juddering, indefinable pixels. In terms of sound that’s all changed kiddoes, now we have a (as yet fuzzy, but) startling Technicolor vision blazing out at us; and when they get this vision sharper and push it, then there’s going to be some eyebrows raised I can tell you.

Some bits on here are nothing short of magnificent; the guitar lines in Ice King chime and boom like the bells of Notre Dame; they somehow take that fabulously Gothic klank that made De Nieuwe Vrolijkheid the greatest lost Dutch band of the new century and ramp it up to 11 with a new supercharged force that is just... fabulous. The little snippets like Polish Moon or La Petite Poire crackle and fizz too and really should be expanded, they need more of this, they could make something massive with this stuff.  Oh, and the guitar line in Remember Moonlight is all that U2 could never do properly; it’s a fabulously driving sound with a beautiful, fiery harmonic tail off. The rhythm section has this menacing plod that has a soft side to it as well; as in Bulb and Your Dead Body In My Basement; a rounded sound that has a certain brittleness to it that is very attractive. Once again it could be pushed a LOT further; it’s at their fingertips on this record, however fleetingly.

I am reminded of the (surely) apocryphal story that Terry Thomas told about a pie manufacturer in the Midlands, who, on being asked about the secret of his factory’s productivity, replied: “oh I don’t do anything difficult old boy. I just lean out of the window and shout, “Faster you fuckers!”

Look I’ve just used Terry Thomas in a fucking rock review, it shows I give a damn somewhere down the line. Faster you fuckers, faster! Work harder! You can do it!