Sunday, 18 July 2010

Single Frame

Okay, I'm going to come clean: I'm full of shit. I'm a faker. A charlatan. Because, when I say I like a band, what I usually mean is, "I like one or two albums by them. I haven't even heard the others." Thus far in this blog's unproductive history, that hasn't really been an issue, since all of the bands I've previously recommended have only released one or two albums, if that. Now, however, it has become one, for Single Frame have released THREE ALBUMS. Three! And EPs! And I've only listened to one! Their debut, Wetheads Come Running! (Admittedly, one of those three is primarily a collection of remixes, but I nonetheless feel unable to claim in good faith that I am endorsing the band's entire creative output. I am not.) So basically, this is an album review of the very type I set out to avoid when I started Days Like Television, but since it's a review of an album released seven years ago that no one has heard of, I think I'm in the clear.

Back in 2003, when Wetheads Come Running was re-released for the first and only time, people liked it: Pitchfork gave the album 8.5 out of 10, along with their controversial 'best new music' tag; Tiny Mix Tapes, having discovered the album as a result of that review, exclaimed "I absolutely love the internet" and awarded it 5 stars; and a few years later, when they were compiling their 'Top Albums of the '00s So Far' list, Cokemachineglow named Wetheads as one of the best full-lengths of 2002 (the year of the album's original release). By the time it came to putting together their end-of-decade lists though, the album had either been forgotten or was neglected by all three of the aforementioned publications.

Within my own end-of-decade list (available upon request), however, Wetheads Come Running was positioned firmly towards the top. Predominantly an indie rock/pop record, the band employs synths and found sounds to differentiate themselves from the guitar-led masses. That goes some way towards conveying how diverse a range of influences are displayed across the album, with post-hardcore and hip-hop also playing their part in shaping the overall sound: 'Mod Style '68' in particular owes more than a small debt to Fugazi, and while the latter genre's impact is maybe less obvious - 'Taxidermy Heads', with its beatboxed percussion and rapped vocal, and the previously mentioned 'Mod Style '68' arguably being the only two tracks explicitly affected - it is nonetheless pervading, especially in determining the structure of the record as brief instrumentals separate most of the 'proper' tracks like indiefied skits.

Thematically, the album embraces those two great indie standards of paranoia and depression. If that suggests there's anything one-paced about Wetheads though, then it couldn't be further from the truth. From the abrasiveness of '3 Bloodless Shadows' and 'New Car Smell' and their screamed vocals, to the more melody-driven 'Comm. Jet (Creepykid Remix)' and 'Post Daydream Forecast Endeavor', the apathetic dejection of 'Eavesdropper Goes Solo' and the more boisterous 'I've Been to a Party at His House', stark shifts in tone ensure that boredom never sets in, even if the lyrics occasionally instil a sense of déjà vu.

Single Frame - Spacedust and Handcuffs

Comm. Jet (Creepykid Remix)

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