Album review: Comanechi – ‘Crime Of Love’ (Merok)

Filthy duo's long-awaited debut brings salacious and mesmerising thrills aplenty

The moment the introductory ‘Prologue’ stutters to life with a sound akin to Frankenstein’s monster getting his thousand-volt wake-up call, it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to be subjected to a violently uncompromising half-an-hour. Detuned Sabbath riffs pile relentlessly over glitching screams reminiscent of a scrambled SOS call from a plummeting aeroplane. And that’s just the first 30 seconds…

Yet despite the palpable sense of spontaneity, few debut albums have a gestation period as long as this one. Four years back, [a]Comanechi[/a] were at the epicentre of an anti-scene in London that saw a multitude of young folk forming bands, starting club nights and generally doing it for themselves. The ethos was simply to be louder, more abrasive and in-yer-face than everyone else around. It was an exciting time and one where the possibilities seemed endless.

All good things must eventually come to an end but, as people drifted apart and key venues shut their doors, Comanechi had pricked up enough ears to score support slots with the likes of [a]Gossip[/a] and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And who could argue with the duo’s entitlement to such an opportunity? It was damn near impossible not to fall in love with singer/drummer Akiko Matsuura’s inhuman yowling and guitarist Simon Petrovich’s otherworldly, bowel-loosening guitar riffs. Live, the tiny but ferocious frontwoman would writhe and contort on the drum stool, her face hidden behind waves of hair like a Japanese horror movie baddie. It was pure catharsis, plain and simple.

Despite the building momentum, Akiko took time out to lead noiseniks Pre, and when she recently resurfaced as a full-time member of [a]The Big Pink[/a] it seemed as though Comanechi’s run might be over. Thankfully, it appears they were merely biding their time and the astonishing ‘Crime Of Love’ smashes any doubt they’d run short of ideas.

Taking a handful of the stand-out tracks from their clutch of vinyl-only singles for the White Heat label, along with some superlative new songs, their first long-player weaves together stoner rock and punk attitude with a captivating flair. Early, breathless moments like ‘Naked’ still bubble with an oversexed impudence (“Naked, I wanna be naked/Washing my body with a toothbrush”), loading rudimentary lyrics with suggestive imagery – made all the more authentic as its protagonist is renowned for regularly taking to the stage wearing just a T-shirt and panties. Equally salacious is the delightfully dirgey ‘Mesmerising Fingers’, with its thundering centrifugal riff and chanting verse (“I’m licking his fingers/I’m looking for his fingers”). It is moments like this that Petrovich’s obsession with doom metal goliaths Electric Wizard fully reveals itself and the result is a colossal wall of pulverising force.

A brighter pop edge is applied to the perversely catchy ‘Close Enough To Kiss’, courtesy of a harmonious bout of ‘ooohing’; however, it is former single ‘My Pussy’ that provides the eerie centrepiece of ‘Crime Of Love’: a gut-wrenching recollection of the kidnap of Akiko’s pet cat from her childhood. As she reels off a list of goodies left out to coax back her wayward friend, you can almost taste the youngster’s naïve hope draining away. The slow, inevitable rumble of the song is torturous and its defeated pay-off deliberately agonising (“I was two years old/That was my first loss/That’s how I learned about loss”). Comanechi’s genius is encapsulated right there, with their unique ability to tantalise and torment within a single breath.

Tom Edwards

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Click here to get your copy of Comanechi’s ‘Crime Of Love’ from the Rough Trade shop.

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