Half Hour of Power
Armed with a fuzz pedal, durable vocal cords and relentless sarcasm, trio Vomitface delivers a half hour of power with their new release Hooray for Me. Recorded and mixed by Steve Albini, the recording engineer behind classics like Nirvana’s In Utero and Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, the album is simple and stripped down, with several tracks reportedly recorded in single takes. Perhaps closest in genre to punk rock, the band nevertheless reveals a unique musical identity on their full-length debut merging a range of ’90s influences.
Opening with hard-hitting drums, steady, churning bass and intervallic guitar feedback and power chords, “Senior Pictures” is a menacing introduction to an aggressive, angry album. Lead singer Jared Micah’s vocals range from a lethargic drawl to a rebellious shriek and are surprisingly present and audible for an Albini recording but still far removed from anything heard on pop radio. Third track “Dramamine”, one of the album’s mellower songs, features a light hi-hat, ambling, fuzzy guitar and a two-part chorus harmony simple enough for a children’s song. Frantic, uptempo tracks like “Slow Learner” and “Et Cetera” meanwhile show significant hardcore punk influence with aggressive, self-deprecating lyrics that speak to adolescent struggles.
One of the elements that distinguishes Vomitface from straightforward punk rock, however, is their heaviness and tendency to groove. Micah’s fuzz guitar frequently blends with Angela Phillips’ bass to create a dark, sludgy concoction. The fuzzy, churning riff on “It’s Me” should feel instantly familiar to Primus fans, bearing an uncanny resemblance to “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver”, and final track “Eastern Block Party” calls to find Melvins and Bleach-era Nirvana. While far from virtuosic, Micah’s soloing on tracks like “If Then” and “Chew Toy” add considerable depth and variation, featuring smooth, violin-like sustain and quirky improvisation.
It’s surprising to hear a record like Vomitface’s Hooray for Me in 2016. Aggressive, raw and sarcastic, the bands wears their influences on their sleeve, and listening is like stepping in a time machine set for 1993. With most songs clocking in at under three minutes, it packs a punch and is listenable without being overly catchy. Some of the material tends to run together, but, if nothing else, it should be a refreshing way to let off steam and rest one’s ears from the beeps and blips of modern pop.