Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
Sticks And Stones
Prepare for some unbridled hyperbole, because ‘Sticks And Stones’ is an aural representation of just how cool the ’90s were until Chris Cornell and his shirt phobia ruined everything. It’s Nirvana; it’s Neutral Milk Hotel; it’s My Bloody Valentine minus the overriding preoccupation with giving the entire world tinnitus. Singer Marion Andrau is part ‘Doll Parts’-era Courtney Love, and on ‘25’ has the Kathleen Hanna vocals nailed down to smouldering “fuck you” perfection.
‘NYC (Money Money)’ is Sonic Youth meets Television in the most amazingly furious way possible (think Selfish Cunt without the disgusting irony) while ‘New Variety’ is the same slice of the Jesus And Mary Chain-esque new wave The Horrors had a stab at, except Underground Railroad’s way is totally cool and not at all ridiculous. You’d be hard-pushed to find a more ruthlessly honed post-punk melee with this much bite, so you might as well start digging out your stripy jumpers and battered Converses from the wardrobe now.
Yeah, OK, we know what you’re thinking. So they sound exactly the same as a bunch of bands who were pretty similar to start with, right? Right. No moulds have been broken, no perceptions smashed or boundaries irreversibly shifted, but it’s a thrilling listen nonetheless. Recording with John Goodmanson (SLEATER-KINNEY, YEAH?) in Seattle (YEAH?) they may be labouring the point slightly, but if we’re not prepared to change for grunge, grunge won’t change for us. Viva la devolution!
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