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9 April 2013

Eat Skull - 'Sick to Death' (Siltbreeze)

Eat Skull's first record, along with the first Pink Reason LP, is a key release in what I see as the 'second wave' of Siltbreeze. It seemingly came out of nowhere, but the I wasn't really hip to what was going on in Portland in 2008. It was exciting to hear at the time, symbolising some sort of bridge to the past greatness of the 90s underground, by virtue of being on this great label. These kids really feel like 'kids' - a youthful exuberance breaks through everything, and if there's an easy criticism here, it's that Eat Skull are a bit manufactured. This cobbles together a bunch of influences I share into a perfect pastiche that simultaneously touches on UK DIY, early Flying Nun, 90s twee indie, contemporary lo-fi, and even a bit of that Shrimper bi-fi feel. The songs are primarily driven by the vocalist, very blown out guitars, and cheap keyboards, and the whole thing sounds like it was recorded on a dictaphone. The pure pop hooks aren't as overt as on their next album, but they poke through on songs like 'Stress Crazy' and 'Ghost List', where the self-conscious static and hiss gets broken through by something genuinely affective. Closing cut 'New Confinement', with a female vocalists, sounds like it could be an outtake by Garbage and the Flowers. I'd like to say it feels a bit disingenuous at times, but the name of the game is 'fun' from start to finish, and while things songs aren't going to bring me to my knees through a sheer understanding of human emotion (if anything, I couldn't really tell you what any of these songs are 'about'), I'm willing to overlook that. It's punk with soft edges, or pop with rough edges, but this is indicative of the new late 00s underground, where its agents are just as comfortable bashing out experiments in tape noise and power electronics as they are writing saccharine indie love songs. Their second record felt at the time like a major leap forward after this, but listening to Sick to Death again, it's basically the same formula only a bit less catchy.

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