Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Ravenous - Splendid

Album review by KevW


Music often goes in cycles. What's deeply unfashionable one minute will most likely be de rigueur in a few years time. Just look at all those hideous 80s synth-pop acts that suddenly we're allowed to like again. In the past couple of years that cycle has jumped ahead a little to the 90s. Not Britpop or the boring bit at the end, we're talking early 90s, particularly the US alternative scene; grunge, college rock, sludgy guitars, plaid shirts and unkempt hair. This debut album from Brooklyn-based quartet Ravenous doesn't so much look back on that period for inspiration, it may as well have got lost in the mail for twenty years, handily resurfacing at just the right time to dive head first into the revival.

It's as if Pavement, Beck, The Beastie Boys and Sonic Youth spent a laid back week jamming together and buried the tapes in a time capsule. It feels more like a relic than a throwback, and surely this is to its credit; while others use Evan Dando, early Flaming Lips and Sugar as references, these guys use them as a blueprint and their recreation is, indeed, 'Splendid'. It's an album loaded with discord with vocals so American it could only have been made on that side of the Atlantic, as could some of the song titles ('Miami Viceroys', 'Irony Gymnasium'). Guitars are set to 'squalling sludge' and the drums are set to 'just thrash the hell out of the bastards'. The lyrics are witty and surreal but never cheesy or goofy.

They almost trick us into thinking a ballad is on its way on 'Ugly Fish' before a cacophony of noise routinely interrupts the slightly ironic talk of fishes and cats. Slacker anthems abound, with 'Miami Viceroys' being particularly effective. 'The Hardest Blues' almost finds Ravenous being contemplative and introspective. To the tune of feedback and cymbals being assaulted of course. On 'We're All Fucked' they actually manage it, and the relentless scuzz is broken briefly, before 'The Dock' kicks in and provides a real highlight. It's not just the sounds that these guys have learnt to master, they know how to write a tune too. It may be a blast from the past, but the important fact is that it's just a blast full stop.




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