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Review : Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love (Album)

A scathing, relentless, and punk as fuck debut album from NYC’s very own electro-noise / punk rock band Perfect Pussy.

file4Artist : Perfect Pussy
Artist Release : Say Yes To Love
Release Date : March 18th 2014 via Captured Tracks

Last year during April time, an EP was released by a controversially and amusingly named band from Syracuse, New York called Perfect Pussy entitled ‘I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling’. It was arguably one of the most raw, challenging, and head turning releases of the year. Backed up by a quality hand of chaotic live shows and insurmountable press and championing from most critics and independent magazines, they single handedly made waves on an alarming degree. Fast forward nearly a year later, and it is safe to say a lot has changed.

The wait has hit a fever pitch for Perfect Pussy’s brand new debut album ‘Say Yes To Love’, which is soon to be available through Captured Tracks – the same label who have promoted other great acts such as DIIV, Mac DeMarco, and PriestsOn the first listen to this album, one thing springs to mind… This is fresh. This is exciting. This is unashamedly raw as fuck, and sonically unhinged to the point of no return.

‘Say Yes To Love’ is a hectic, frenzied, and at times hypnotic eight song long shot of audio adrenaline in the veins of a hollow musical body, in much need of life and rejuvenation. The direct influences that stand out within this release, are immediate and clear as crystal. It fuses the hardcore punk fury of early Fucked Up and Black Flag records, the clean yet raucous chaos of Be Your Own Pet and Scholars, the electronic mayhem  and vocal leanings of the likes of Crystal Castles and Atari Teenage Riot, and unrelenting cool and noise that could be well demonstrated by the likes of Sonic Youth and Test Icicles. Throw all that in to a glass, shake it up real nice and serve – you have Perfect Pussy. And you have their ferocious debut album in a nutshell.
Oh, and with the recent vinyl pre-orders going out for this album, vocalist Meredith Graves sampled her own blood in the mix of the first limited edition vinyl pressings, which have now become a sold out cult piece of merchandise! Talk about your own personal signature on a record.

From this reviewers personal standpoint, the production on this album is really well suited to the music to a varied degree. Whilst most people who will listen to Perfect Pussy will more than likely be put off by the ‘noise’ like production of ‘Say Yes To Love’, that is the way it is intended. In a recent interview, vocalist Meredith Graves claims that she does not like her own voice, and that the recordings are somewhat a testament to the lo-fi recordings of the Syracuse hardcore scene. And that the production is much like that of her previous band, Shoppers. This critically speaking could be a down point to some, but for those who understand where the band have taken their sound, it will be welcomed with open arms.

The thing with this production, is that whilst it can be challenging for new listeners, it captures and emulates the rawness of previous early 80s hardcore records like ‘Damaged’ or ‘Nervous Breakdown’ by Black Flag, or perhaps the original demo by Minor Threat. It is a very interesting angel to come from in an age where in order to be successful, recording and production must be absolutely top notch and clean as a shining pair of shoes. So in essence, this is a subliminal ‘fuck you’ to the mainstream market!

The only real flaws that are apparent with the album are due to its brevity, and (towards the end of the album) frustrating lack of creativity. For a debut album, eight songs is not enough. ‘Say Yes To Love’ feels more like a maxi-EP, that is a grand continuation from ‘I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling’. If there were a decent ten tracks on this album (especially after the experimental noise / ambient sounds from the last two songs ‘Advance Upon The Real’, and ‘VII’), this album would have been that little bit more complete. It feels like it is consistently building up to a certain point, and then BAM! It is gone as quick as it has arrived. It is frustratingly brief at a mere 24 minutes long, but the time that it is audible, it certainly delivers (even if it is lacking a bit towards the end).

Rewinding a little bit to the beginning of the album, let’s take a brief overview of some of the tracks. Album opener and lead single ‘Driver’ begins with the sound of white noise and the apparent sound of a guitar being plugged in. Then all of a sudden… all hell breaks loose. This song is reminiscent of the vitriol and venom that is equalled in the song ‘Color Removal’ by Fucked Up. But the electronic elements to this song make everything seem so much more menacing. The distorted keyboard and effects pedal manipulation, take the sonics to a whole new level of madness. Metaphorically speaking, it is like driving down a motorway with no seatbelt whilst fuelled on narcotics – in other words, totally out of control. The same follows suit with songs such as ‘Bells’, ‘Big Stars’, and ‘Work’.

‘Interference Fits’ is probably one of the standout tracks on this album, from a mainstream perspective. It is a progressively building concoction of sublime melody and rhythm, which evolves in to subdued chaos before falling out in to ambient noise. This is followed by what almost seems like a continuation of ‘Interference Fits’ – the off-kilter ‘Dig’.

The last two songs are finished by ‘Advance Upon The Real’ (which is probably the last true punk rock moment on the album). The last half of this song is very unique. There is the sound of what is the sound of a tape reel rolling, with some very haunting organ sounds. The last song ‘VII’ again seems like a continuation of this, but with a very foreboding electro-noise element, which would not sound out of place on an ambient Aphex Twin release.

One other thing that must be said about this release, is that the consistency of how each track is introduced by a short interlude of noise and hiss, like it was one continuous session in the studio. That is one of the most organic and truly beautiful things about it, that it all seems like it is done in one place at one time. The rawness, the warmth, and ambience that is blended with the searing mayhem and audio anarchy is just incredible.

Whilst the debut album is frustratingly short, it leaves a lot of room for imagination. Maybe that was the intention… to leave us with an album that does not entirely fulfil us, but whets our appetites and leaves us not wanting, but begging for more. What an absolute cocktease…

But regardless, Perfect Pussy have released a truly spellbinding, no holds barred, and mind blowing debut album that truly stands out as one of the most unique, unforgiving, and punk as fuck releases of 2014. The greatest underdog story of the year? Quite possibly so.

Score : 8/10
Reviewer : James Paul Matthews

 

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