There are too many bands these days. Not to say that i am proposing that we herd some of them into gulags, but there is just so much music released that it is impossible to keep up with everything. There are so many bands discussed online that i, as someone who loves to listen, have a hard time following it all.
Working in the cutthroat world of online music criticism makes it even harder. Think you have a hard time trolling through all of the downloads? Try doing that with the expectation that you will write something vaguely meaningful about what you hear! I tell you -- at times it is overwhelming, and what ends up happening is one of two things:
- Things do not get listened to with any depth. People give it a quick good/bad judgment, spit out a paragraph for their blog, and then file the MP3 away, maybe just on their hard drive and not even in any playlist.
- You have to listen to less and less.
At EvilSponge, we pride ourselves on not doing option 1. It takes us longer to review some things, but that is because we refuse to take our responsibility lightly. Music is the most important things in our lives, and we all know that it is the deep tracks, the songs that do not reveal themselves until 3 (or 13, or 33) listens in that leave the strongest impression. So we pick and choose what we listen to.
The point of this long and boring digression is that i often feel that i cheat some artists. I like certain bands, but honestly do not have the listening time to give all of their releases the attention they deserve. The promos just keep coming, and i have to move on.
Which brings me to The Purrs. They have cleverly circumvented this by sending me their last three releases as promos. So instead of being a band that i like and would get the album, but not listen to it that much because i had reviews to work on, The Purrs send me their records and then Brendan forces me to review them. This benefits them because they get a deep review from someone with more than 10 minutes familiarity to their music. And i benefit because i get to listen to a band grow. It's a win-win situation.
That said, i sincerely hope that this is not the last Purrs record. The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together is a record about drug addiction, heartbreak, manipulative women, and loss. Lead Purr Jima sings about suicide in more than one song, and many of the tunes have a generally depressed air to them that, well, worries me. Jima -- get help buddy. Don't let the b*tches drag you down!
Aside from the depressing lyrical content, this is another fine Purrs release. The band continues their progression from being yet another Britpoppish band, to being a songwriting act with vaguely bluesy riffs. That is, i see the arc of The Purrs career to date as starting as something very Verve-like and progressing towards something like a mellow Rolling Stones. Or, now that i think about it, like the solo work of ex-Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft... Huh. Well, maybe Jima is trying to model his career after Ashcroft's... Strange.
At any rate, The Purrs succeed more often than they fail. Let me go over a few of the songs on this record.
Frozen In Time begins the lyrical sadness that dominates this record,
with Jima singing about a relationship that just didn't work out, leaving both
parties saddened and frustrated. The guitars here play some lovely arpeggios,
which nicely complement the sadness of the lyrics.
She's Got Chemicals complicates Jima's heartbreak by pointing out that
it was her that keeps him from staying clean. Here The Purrs rock out with
crisp, lightly echoed guitars and some thudding drums. When they want to rock
out, they can do it quite well. They rock on Go Cindy Go as well, pulling
out the tremolo pedal and whirring their way through the tune.
You Don't Look So Good has quickly become one of my all time favorite Purrs tunes. It is a lyrical powerhouse for Jima. He starts with the line "Nothing kills a buzz like a botched suicide / It can really ruin your day" (a line that would be sad if it weren't so silly), peaks with him repeating the title with a slightly quizzical tone, and ends with him repeating the line "every silver lining hides a cloud". Not a happy song, but the guitars here are trebly blues that tinkle along with tapped drums. Very nice.
Junk & Jil, on the other hand, is my least favorite Purrs tune. Ever. The guitar riff here sounds like it wandered in from the one LP by The Grapes, an Athenian jam rock act of the early 90s. Ugh. The high-pitched arpeggios annoy me, reminding me of smelly hippies wearing toques in Athens, in the summer. (The smell is something i will carry to my grave. No amount of patchouli can cover the acrid sweat smell of wool worn in 90 degree weather!) That guitar riff ruins the song for me.
They follow this up with the best rocker of this LP, Waiting for the Asteroid.
Lyrically this hearkens back to their No Particular Bar, No Particular
Town EP with it's line "some space junk fell in the street last night".
Apparently Jima feels that salvation will come from the heavens, in the form
of annihilation. Not an uplifting thought, but the guitars here jangle away,
which some nice distortion on the choruses. The drumming also swells up nicely
on the chorus. I bet this one really gets the crowds moving at their concerts.
The next track, Disconnected starts with a long guitar jam. I swear i keep expecting to hear David Gilmour sing at some point. This song really sounds like something from Animals. Great stuff.
Overall, i continue to be impressed. The Purrs are doing worthwhile things, and i enjoy being able to follow their career. Now, guys, look back at the first part of this review. That is a subtle reminder that you need to send me the next record. I look forward to it already.