By now you’ll have at least had whiff of The Smell, LA’s infamous all-ages, anything-goes DIY epicentre. And if you’ve read this week’s Radar (and if not, why not?) you’ll also be familiar with Abe Vigoda, self-confessed ‘tropical punks’ and that scene’s latest upstarts. ‘Skeleton’ isn’t actually their debut LP, but it’s the first one you can buy on UK shores without great difficulty. It’s a bold, brash listen and, with a manic 14 songs in just over half an hour, it goes straight for the jugular. Opener ‘Dead City/Waste Wilderness’ kicks in with insistent, treble-heavy riffing. Juan Velazquez and Michael Vidal’s chiming guitars, owing as much to ’80s Scottish art-poppers Orange Juice as, say, Vampire Weekend, resemble steel drums rather than six-strings – truly the sound of summer. The real thrust comes from the muscular rhythm section of David Reichart and Reggie Guerrero (bass and drums respectively); Guerrero, in particular, bamboozles the listener by switching tack from thrash-the-shit-out-of-everything punk flailing to syncopated reggaeton rhythm within the space of a single song.
That is, though, ‘Skeleton’’s only real weak spot: moments of genuinely inventive instrumentation and musical ambition are in abundance here, but somehow the songs feel less than the sum of their parts. Plus, it’s all executed so breathlessly that by the time its life-span is up, your ears feel like they’ve been mauled by tigers. Once they’ve fleshed out some of their more sketchy ideas, we could be talking about
a special band indeed.