The latest fascination with ’90s trends, including fashion, art and music, has been steady and true. 2013 saw a new release by My Bloody Valentine and Boy Meets World is getting a spin-off series. Might as well bust out your flannel shirts. Purling Hiss is the type of band that dishes out loud, noisy rock n’ roll that, despite obvious influences, isn’t filtered through a calculated, modern lens. Water On Mars is a refreshing take on something that isn’t necessarily fresh.
The album starts off with “Lolita,” a rumbly mess of distortion, following in the steps of Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. Frontman Mike Polizze does a half Perry Farrell, half J Mascis on the mic, wailing every now and then. Tons of bendy guitar notes and screeches fill out Purling Hiss’ sound, satisfying all the noise geeks out there.
“Mercury Retrograde” would go great with a ’90s flick; picture a psuedo-hippie chick swaying and spinning around in braids, nose piercings and Doc Martens. Think Rayanne from My So-Called Life. The song itself sports a Pixies-style bassline, reminiscent of “Here Comes Your Man.”
“Rat Race” is a good example of what made ’90s alt rock so good: all the pop mastery of the ’80s with rad, disorted instruments. Polizze’s commentary on staying up in a world constantly trying to keep you down is both inspirational and bittersweet. This is a good candidate for Track 1 on your next “Want To Sleep For 24 Hours” mixed cassette.
This album is surprisingly varied, with guitar-centric tracks like “Face Down” and “Water On Mars;” the band shows everything it’s got. Sure, they can make a lot of noise, but it’s thoughtful, tasteful and makes a lot of sense to balance out the record.
Water On Mars was released in the right time and place. That’s not to say Polizze’s baby wouldn’t make it, let’s say, in 2004– but 2013 is a great time for musicians to break the standard pop conventions being picked up by the indie world. Loud, wailey rock n’ roll is not just a Jack White thing anymore. Purling Hiss welcomes both old and new as long there’s enough effect pedals and ampage to satisfy their guitars’ hunger.