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Divorce Kevin Mccaighy , December 5th, 2012 10:18

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My first experience of Glasgow-based noise unit Divorce was always going to be unforgettable, considering that they nearly made my fiancé’s neck explode. Blasting out within the narrow confines of Nation of Shopkeepers in Leeds, their performance was so witheringly intense that people made a hasty retreat to the furthest corners of the bar in sheer terror. And it is precisely this overwhelming, violent noise that has been distilled onto the band’s first full-length release.

Beginning with the wiry dirge 'Cunts in A Circle', the album is a crazed assemblage of high velocity attack and subterranean drool. The first side is with eviscerating tracks that are ablaze with a malign energy, brutally harnessed by the group’s unsparing arrangements. Vickie McDonald’s nightmare guitar sound lurches and tears through 'Snob Value' and 'Pencils Giant Pencils', alternately acidic and oblique. It melds perfectly with VSO’s churning, otherworldly bass fuzz, a hulking presence that resolutely pins down every iota of low end.

But this is not to deny the group’s more nuanced abilities. The brilliantly-named 'Aids of Space' is a disarmingly supple slice of atonal rock, held in place by Andy Brown’s precision drum work and a snub-nosed riff that could have come straight out of their avowed heroes Arab On Radar’s demonic catalogue. Divorce are one of only a handful of British groups who have fully absorbed the influence of Providence RI’s meanest, whilst at the same time forging their own formidable identity.

And there is one area in particular where they give Eric 'Mr Pottymouth' Paul more than a run for his money. Singer Jennie Fulk is without question one of the most fearsome female vocalists of recent times. Her ectoplasmic shrieks and dishevelled mewling place her alongside the likes of Kelly Canary of Dickless and Katie Jane Garside of Queen Adreena in the pantheon of truly frightening underground frontwomen.

This not-so-secret vocal weapon is given all the room she needs on the album’s second and most nightmarish side. The group indulges in some Melvins-style sludge on 'Dreg Leg', a monstrous downer with a flesh-eating riff as well as some experimental flourish on 'Stabb (Stabby) Stab', distinguished by some vivid saxophone blurt from guest contributor James Swinburne. Every track is slathered judiciously in Fulk’s atavistic hectoring.

Divorce are a group that was made for vinyl. If this album was to be inflicted on a dance floor a hell mouth would open. Their invasive noise rock is an adrenaline shot laced with strychnine.

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Dec 6, 2012 7:17am

Note to reviewer; best not to go for eye-catching couplets that convey little or no meaning, such as "ectoplasmic shrieks", "dishevelled mewling" or "atavistic hectoring". This may work in lyrics but not in a piece where you are supposed to be informing the readers about your subject.
Oh, and thanks for mentioning the genre in the very final sentence. Try something earlier, such as the first sentence?
I did quite like the idea of a "pantheon" for underground female figures, even if it's plain you've no idea the Pantheon was a building for gods; quite the opposite of denizens of some fantasy underworld, really.
Now, not being sure what to expect from your review except that it will probably be mildly noisy and perhaps a bit tuneless, I shall have to give the album a listen. Other than that, a fine bit of work.

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Dec 6, 2012 11:24am

In reply to Qrobur:

I am well aware of what constitutes a pantheon: that is why I used the term to denote, however mischieviously, a group of female singers that I consider worthy of elevation from their positions as "denizens of some fantasy underworld". The "couplets" you refer to are responses based upon my experience of Divorce live and viewing some recent live performance footage via youtube. I was merely trying to convey the enthusiasm their music provokes with a compact, impactful vocabulary. That you wish to hear the album is success enough for me.

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Dec 6, 2012 12:19pm

In reply to Qrobur:

"Oh, and thanks for mentioning the genre in the very final sentence. Try something earlier, such as the first sentence?"

The first sentence begins:

"My first experience of Glasgow-based noise unit Divorce..."

And then he went on to describe at length the sounds they make with their rock instrumentation. Perhaps you were confused by not him instantly fusing together the words "noise" and "rock", but maybe you should be flattered that he credited you with enough intelligence to figure that out from the very obvious, day-glo-painted clues placed in front of your face.

And, speaking as a reader with a rudimentary understanding of adjectives and metaphors, I know precisely what to expect from "ectoplasmic shrieks", "dishevelled mewling" and "atavistic hectoring", ta very much. But thanks for your concern.

If Mr McCaighy will forgive me, I will take the liberty of reviewing this album in a manner you would prefer. Genre: Noise rock. 9/10. You're welcome.

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Dec 6, 2012 1:44pm

In reply to Qrobur:

Why on earth should a reviewer have to spoonfeed you what an album sounds like? True, a review should have some bearing on this, but as Joe's pointed out, he mentions genre in both first and last sentence. Otherwise, 'high-velocity attack' tells you about tempo, 'nightmare guitar sound' and 'otherwordly bass fuzz' about instrument tone, 'one of the most fearsome female vocalists of her time' see where I'm going.

The couplets you've picked out are just examples of a writer having fun with emotive language (heaven forbid), hopefully to the end that the reader will have some fun too. It's not clumsily done either - when reviews consist entirely of bullshit wordsmithery with no running thread, yes, they're usually horrible, but I don't think that this is the case here.

Reviews are allowed to be evocative and to imply. They aren't only written to inform readers about their subject, and neither does this have to be their primary reason for existence.

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