Reviews STNNNG Veterans of Pleasure

STNNNG

Veterans of Pleasure

STNNNG have slowed down their output but it doesn’t seem that age is catching up to them. If anything, their anger seems more pronounced than ever. Pronounced “The Stunning,” the band plays aggressive and confrontational rock that punches, kicks and occasionally claws at the listener, with guitar barbs, drum-fronted jabs and bass-driven tumbling. It’s chaotically and meandering, yet artfully crafted and particular.

As the instruments go in different directions, vocalist Chris Besinger spits and curses in speak-sing that embodies that tone. It’s beautiful and angry. It’s proof that aggression isn’t about the volume dial or the tempo.

On their return to action, Veterans of Pleasure, it picks up where Empire Inward left off, but with a little of the urgency of their early work. Empire Inward often found the band wandering on tangential paths that sometimes pulled the songs in a new direction. Here, the instrumentation—especially Adam Burt’s and Nathan Nelson’s dueling guitars—stray away but always circle back to the fore, which gives the songs a more direct approach. While it has some art-rock tendencies, the songs average about 3 minutes a pop, so it never stretches the attention span too thin.

“That Other Place” is a notable example of their sound. After Besinger’s barks and the aggressive seesaw guitars, there is an almost-crescendo around the 2:30 mark that takes shades of Shellac’s song construction and punches it up with some Black Flag anger and, finally, some Jesus Lizard blind rage at the 3-minute mark when Besinger spews, “Reality is a rare event/ For which there is no beginning/ And there is no end,” just as the song comes to a brisk finish.

As “That Other Place” pounds to a close, the album then wraps up with two more adventurous tracks that lose the momentum but serve as decent metaphors for how STNNNG isn’t limited by any specific song format. The spoken word+drum style of “Top Hat Man” is followed by “Miami,” which takes that spoken word concept but adds to the instrumentation.

It’s poetry in motion, but not the rhythmic couplets that spring to mind from grade school. This is jagged and convulsing art that brings emotion to life.

7.8 / 10Loren
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7.8 / 10

7.8 / 10

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