Leave it to Quaaludes to elevate a tape of previously unreleased demos to a work of art.
I have to admit, even as a long-time Quaaludes fan (and, full disclosure, someone who personally knows Aimee,) I was a little skeptical about their decision to release these demos, “recorded in Quaaludes practices.” It felt like filler, maybe even like a rip-off, a bone thrown to fans to tide us over until a “proper” new album materializes. After listening to it, I don’t feel that way anymore.
If you think words like “DIY” and “raw” sound like dog whistle for “unprofessional,” then avoid this album. Buy one of their other releases, and you will see that they are capable of polish. But if you are like me, and occasionally love some primal punk rock that sounds like it was recorded in a tin can, rejoice, and buy this tape immediately.
Rejects starts forcefully with a punk-as-hell fuck-you to Aimee’s mom—a secretly recorded verbal tirade serves as the intro. It’s a courageous act of defiance, and more to the point of this review, the maternal ranting about how Aimee is “dirty” and looks like “a street person” perfectly sets the stage for the gritty song which follows, “She’s Gonna Get You.”
This is a ferocious set of songs. In true Quaaludes fashion, they are as fast and furious as could be desired, yet exhibit more stamina than most punk tracks, clocking in at an average of three minutes long. Due to the recording quality, lyrics are often hard to distinguish. Aimee’s voice is reduced to incoherent yelps and screams on many tracks. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, in the context of this tape, it works. Included is a rough version of their break-up anthem “I Don’t Care” (one of my favorite songs on the Quaaludes’ self-titled album). “B.G.G.S.” impresses with its forceful riff and melodic wailing. “The Milkshake Song” is a chilly soundscape of ride cymbals and low, anguished groans. It’s slightly marred by an occasionally faltering groove. “Blonde” has a weirdly charming surf-rock vibe, and the remix of “B.G.G.S” sounds like something Le Tigre would release (see the remix of “All That Glitters”). “Let Out” is an unsettling closer, a punk-ambient composition of eerie chimes and seemingly random guitar strumming. It’s nice, and gives the listener a needed moment to breathe and think “what did I just hear?” but still feels a bit perfunctory.
On the balance, Rejects is well worth the buying and the listen. The more fucked-up you like your punk to sound, the better you will like this.
7.5 / 10
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