, November 9th, 2009 11:55
Any exploration of Little Claw's second album, 'Human Taste', begs the question — is this just another lo-fi album? While this forces the hand, initially shoving you toward a defiant "absolutely not, it's an orchestral/wonderful best thing in the Universe" approach, the bottom line is: yes, of course this is a lo-fi album.
You're then faced with the more enlightening secondary question: what's wrong with lo-fi albums? Answer: nothing. We're in an ongoing, never-ending band boom. Blame or worship the internet for this. Yes, it might make label boss Thurston Moore the musical equivalent of a senile loner living in a house overridden with bin-scrounged newspapers he doesn't have the heart to throw out, but that also makes him not Jimmy Iovine. Thurston wins.
Human Taste is akin to a 1957 edition of the New Yorker lying lost and forgotten under Thurston's TV — it's a bloody interesting artefact and gloriously kitsch to boot. From the opening of 'Breathing Tape' with its random, slow, keyboard arpeggios, box one is ticked: this is as orchestral as the Residents' jilted mangling of classical composition, and as sparse and spookily enchanting. I have no idea what Kilynn Lunsford is mumble-singing and I don't want to; she doesn't exactly sound congratulatory.
'Frozen in the Future' invites a few references to be thrown as it jiggles in the docks. It pounds away with a two-note bass line, hypnotic maracas and Heath Heemsbergen ranting his assertion of "there's no way out." He's correct: the track darts sprightly around the stage with venom in its eyes, recalling Nick Cave in his younger, unhinged incarnation, while the ongoing drones and bluster can't help but feel comfortingly like the Stooges.
This is where the band locks; they clearly love thrashing out distorted grooves while adding the occasional splat of shit or paint to the wheel along the way. 'Golden Boy' hits its mechanical beat and allows a saxophone to trill away merrily for seven minutes, gleefully alternating between part-James Chance, part-dentist's drill as the band smash on, before the last minute shift's the music into huge party groove mode, as though the Ramones had suddenly and seamlessly taken over.
When Little Claw do acoustic 'songs', however, the results are less compelling. Unlike Phil Elvrum's ability to sing painfully yet somehow sound amazing, unfortunately Lunsford can't pull off the same trick. Instead, and accentuated by the lo-fi one mike recording vibe, this sounds like a University stoner jam with the girl who's kinda' cool but can't really sing (but the guys let her jam anyway in an attempt at subconscious courtship) letting rip. This is probably what Katy Perry's voice sounded like in her devout Christian early demoes as she was (very possibly) high on love; this is probably what Alanis Morrisette's last album sounded like too.
Songs like 'Modern Vampire' and 'Slow Sticky Tornado' throw Lunsford into double track vocal mode, make her sound like a machine and let the bluster scratch and fight, evolve and dissolve gloriously underneath her. Here the band jump far away from anything and make music for outer space. As they merrily dance into orbit you can only watch from afar and wonder how banging sticks and chipped cymbals can propel them up there whilst simultaneously asking why you can't do that yourself and is that Thurston Moore in a palace stuffed full of English gold bars on the moon you can see?
It looks so easy.