Bands are seemingly judged differently on their sophomore outings: where does it change, does it meet expectation, does it show growth, and the like. Well, writing about a band the second (or third) time is kind of the same thing. With Blood::Muscles::Bones, Street Eaters haven’t changed up their sound drastically or reworked their well-oiled machine. They’ve just written another bundle of songs and pressed them to wax. Rusty Eyes and Hydrocarbons is as great a debut as they come. That doesn’t mean I need to describe their sound all over again, does it?
Their second time out, the Bay Area duo has tightened their sound a bit. It’s noisy, changes tempos frequently and, above all, carries furious-yet-positively tinged rock that explores boundaries without ever crossing into No Man’s Jamland. They manage to break the walls of punk and noise down, celebrating sing-shout harmonies alongside heavy bass riffs and distortion that’s still danceable. It’s a hell of an accomplishment and with Blood::Muscles::Bones they’ve cleaned up some of those noise-laden moments even more. Two songs (of ten) come in around 5 minutes, but your average Street Eaters piece is 3-3:30. They get into their jam, hit the melodic flow, and then get out without wallowing around in freak-out mode. That succinct approach makes it ever the more powerful.
Alternating vocals between Megan March and John No, the variety in voice fits right in with their mid-song time shifts. The band doesn’t pick a hook and stick with for long, choosing to cycle and repeat their melodic themes in choice parts of the song. It’s carefully crafted but it always feels on the verge of falling apart, complemented by the vocals which lean toward chaotic shouting blended with actual singing. It feels like March takes a bit more of the vocals this go-around, and No sounds a touch harsher on the record than on their first, though a recent live show had him sounding more similar to Rusty Eyes…. The two play off one another wonderfully, as evident in the standout “Running Dog.”
The songs themselves are a mix of personal and political. It’s not agitprop but it’s thoughtful. “Waxwing” features some shouted-out unison lyrics of “We must produce/ We must consume” but that’s the exception, not the rule. The band utilizes metaphor and observation to mix their political views with their personal and emotional three-dimensional experiences. “This song’s about our dead parents,” No said live before “Dead Parts,” “and a whole bunch of other hidden stuff.” And then they laughed.
They can mix the serious and positive, the noisy with the danceable. It’s a complicated mix, but they do it wonderfully.
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