Album review: Wetdog - 'Frauhaus!' (Angular)
Post-punk ladies can't step outside the limitations of scrappiness
God bless Angular Records – the south London label that gave us [a]The Long Blondes[/a] and [a]These New Puritans[/a] are still putting out wiry post-punk records with an almost perverse emphasis on authenticity. It’s difficult to imagine a better home for [a]Wetdog[/a]. Their 2008 debut boasted 21 songs, suggesting that for this east London all-female trio even quality control represents some kind of lapse in artistic integrity. Thankfully [b]‘Frauhaus!’[/b] is more concise, the band bolstering their scratchy racket with rich harmonies and ideas that see them crawl out of the cul-de-sac of Slits comparisons.
Take [b]‘Lower Leg’[/b] for example; it sounds like early Fall with a souped-up, cowbell-embellished bassline worthy of cult New York punk-funk females Bush Tetras, while drummer Sarah Datblygu chops between time signatures.
Elsewhere, the viscous, globular bass and fuzzy keys on [b]‘Fist Face’[/b] are the right shade of black to accompany Rivka Gillieron’s disturbing assertion that she’s “[i]stroking your hair while I smother your face[/i]”, while the band swap garage rock for GarageBand on [b]‘Snapper’[/b], a lo-fi shanty that marries dissonant chords with an oompah sensibility.
But for all the idiosyncrasies swilling about, the band are still hampered by the limitations of their form. At less than two minutes, many of the songs remain as sketches neither punchy enough to work as snotty punk songs nor ever developed into anything more. A case in point is [b]‘New Year’[/b], where lush harmonies and atmospheric Hammond organ chords should have [a]Ipso Facto[/a] soiling their little black dresses, but it fades out after 70 seconds. Wetdog, stop restricting yourselves: it’s 2009
for heaven’s sake.
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Click here to get your copy of Wetdog’s ‘Frauhaus!’ from the Rough Trade shop.