Birthday Suits always surprise me on record. Live, it’s fierce and reckless; sweaty mayhem and cathartic rock ‘n’ roll. On record, it’s more calculated, with the vocals coming stronger in place of the guitar/drum overload that powers the live show.
The Minneapolis two-piece play something in the vein of garage rock, but with a ballsy and crafty “serious” musicianship that’s as unkempt as The Stooges but alternately as precise as AC/DC. Maybe throw a little hiddenRamones in there somewhere too, and it’s rock like it’s meant to be. Traditional yet inspiring and ultimately unique.
Adult Party: Spin the Bottle is just their third full-length in ten years as a band, and it’s just nine songs in 16 minutes at that. Those 9 songs, though, don’t ever let up. Intro jam “Johntro” showcases what the band is about, with hooky guitar and drumming that inspires new directional twists throughout the memorable bits—angular garage with a focus on the L-O-U-D. It then segues seamlessly into “Happy Man Forty Two Late.” Certainly an odd title for a song, but it’s driving and head-bobbing rock with the vocals from Hideo Takahashi punchy and articulate—they’re sung, but with an emphatic punctuality that hits on the beat. His voice has a touch of a yelp to, or a slightly higher pitch bark that plays well over the guitar tone, though tends to play second fiddle on stage.
The record carries different tempos within the songs, but never with a slow song thrown in the mix. Birthday Suits approach is to play loud and to play fast, letting up time to time within the song in well-structured pieces that could probably be three times longer if played by other musicians. These aren’t three chords distortions being thrown at an audience for 2 minutes a pop; they’re real songs with movements and progressions, wound so tightly that the tension is the defining emotion conveyed, the strings wringing and ready to pop. While it’s more melodic on the record than live (where it’s more furious), it’s a punchy record of impressive musicianship and a testament to the fact that garage/punk/noise/whatever you choose to call it, isn’t an anti-art statement, it’s just a tighter package that showcases different emotions.
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