Like oil dripping from a knackered sump, slowly but surely [a]Six By Seven[/a] have been building up to something dramatic for a while. That much we could have guessed. Not this, though. If their previous records had been notable but somehow incomplete slicks in life’s tidal drift – artfully conceived distress signals just that little bit too polite to really convince – ‘The Closer You Get’ is an emo-logical cataclysm of Exxon Valdez proportions. “This country’s dirty and depressing me, yeah”, Chris Olley sings through a palpable sneer.
So much for polite. Here, the filth and the fury take centre stage. Some time during the past year, [a]Six By Seven[/a] must have met Satan at a crossroads. Instead of following Him down the path marked ‘comfortably assimilated pain, like a just left-of-centre, slightly grubbier Radiohead‘, they chopped His head off and made a pact with the Great Noise God to be Louder! Nastier! And above all else, More Fucked Off! with everything and everyone than ever before.
The tone barely shifts over the ensuing 11 songs. Even when the music’s sibilant squall abates, the sense of unremitting hysteria remains. ‘One Easy Ship Away’ is a splintered acoustic freakout by a man apparently fantasising about sticking a knife through his chest. The rolling crescendo of ‘My Life Is An Accident’ features the very funny, self-deprecatingly morose lyric, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?”. Yet for all the negative impulses at its core, it’s an immensely uplifting album. ‘New Year’ has a chorus as wide-eyed as Bono in the Pope‘s bedroom, while the headrushing groove of ‘Another Love Song’ could be The Flaming Lips as produced by Phil Spector, so pure is the pheromonic pulse.
Somehow, from wholly precedented elements, Six By Seven have forged their own distinct sound, a sort of user-friendly mania. ‘The Closer You Get’ is a fist-in-the-air triumph, a beautifully realised shot of vitriol to the mainstream’s limpid veins, an amped-up refusal to acquiesce. “Anger is an energy”, a wild-eyed seer once observed. These happy death men know exactly what he meant.