A love letter to the Jim Jims
My love of this record is born of a near-perfect storm of its inherent quality and the fact that its influences are not only brilliant, but hold the kind of personal significance for me that some people's wedding song holds for them. The strains of post-punk and no wave that I think I'm hearing plug directly into so much of the music I obsessed about over the last twenty years while wondering, "Why isn't anyone making records that sound like this? Why aren't these bands more influential, damn it?!?" And now, finally, someone is.
If you'll indulge me, I'd like to talk about the record track by track. If you won't indulge me, you can skip right to leaving a comment telling me what an obsessive and self-indulgent douche I am.
"City City" - Every great record kicks off with a great track, and friends, "City City" is a great fucking track. The first sound you hear is a distorted, warbling oscillation, like a shitty synthesizer pushed through a cheap guitar pedal. Then an insistent, pounding beat rises up underneath, all snap-thump, snap-thump and tom-tom roll and then the guitars get going, dueling and dancing in pointy, edged interplay and beautifully shredded tone. It's like TV on the Radio collaborating with Suicide with Tom Verlaine guesting on guitar and then, fuck it all, less than two minutes in and it is over and you're left desperate for more.
"Brown Cloud" - How could this not be a let down after that, right? Only it's not. It's maybe even better. More of the same guitar and throbbing beats, but this time driving a poppy bit of psychedelia that sounds like a long last track from the Teardrop Explodes, a never-was slice of perfection that would have been the perfect bridge between Kilimanjaro's rough and ready post-punk pop and the more studied psychedelic sounds of Wilder. And the the whooshing, reverse-reverb effect on the chorus and bridge? It makes me want to start taking drugs again.
"Horny" - The first time I heard this one it was a relief, because I thought my head would explode if the record just kept getting better. In other words, it was a bit of a letdown. But the more I listen to it, the better I like it. For one thing: Hello, radio song! For another, it takes the same Television/Wire guitar sound and outs it in a context it can breathe a bit more. And there's something here that reminds me of Joy Division, if Joy Division weren't so fucking depressing.
"Procrastinating" - The desperation in the vocal pierces into my heart and the guitar tones are like something from a dream of my perfect guitar band. And this one just builds and builds, then lets off just long enough to let you relax, before building some more and then stopping short, leaving you out of breath.
"Land Mine" - When I tell you "Land Mine" is my least favorite track on the album, know that means it's merely very, very good. The most punk sounding of the batch, it's still not exactly what goes for punk these days (or really, any days past those first early anything-goes days in New York and London in the mid-'70s).
"Anti-Suicide" - Just when I'd become convinced that the brevity of their tracks was half what made them great, their four and a half minute opus "Anti-Suicide" comes along and blows that idea out of the water. The guitar tones here are incredible. Half Television, half Sonic Youth, half I-don't-know-what-the-fuck (maybe Brian Eno?) -- and yes, I realize that is three halves -- and all but perfect. There's one brilliant tone in particular that's little more than a high whine, like filtered feedback or even a high-pass-filtered synth tone (pretty sure it's a guitar, though...). This song builds and releases several times in epic fashion, accompanying the yelping, keening vocals that are the very sound of desperate intensity.
"Strobe Light" - Our closer opens up with a beat that's like tribal drums as interpreted by pasty white kids. Then the fuzzzy bass wraps itself around them, a guitar starts slicing through the miasma and the vocal comes in to make it all gel. Oh, and the "Safety Dance" quote that serves as a sort of bridge? Fucking brilliant. Wrap the whole thing up with an intense, tightly wound guitar/drum freakout and we're done.