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Snack Family
Pokie Eye EP Alex Flood , December 19th, 2014 18:08

On their debut Belly, Snack Family announced themselves with four excellent tracks of squawking saxophones and rumbling, hellish rock. Their second EP, Pokie Eye sees them progress their sound, though it is structured much as their last one, with a monstrous sax riff that doesn't quite seem to end (albeit with variations) until the final track finishes a quarter of an hour later. By that time most will have succumbed to the impulse to make an inebriated leap from the settee, shrieking like Tom Waits' cat.

The London-based trio have been playing their mixture of gritty blues and gut-wrenching rock & roll since 2011, and Pokie Eye follows Belly as their second release this year. Maybe it took vocalist, Andrew Plummer, that long to ingest enough coal in order to perfect that demonic roar of his - think Nick Cave after a shepherd's pie topped with cigarette ash.

Recorded with Ben Lamdin (Nostalgia 77) at Fish Market Studios in Willesden, London, the record also features the striking artwork of concept artist Drew Millard (Gallows, Pulled Apart By Horses, Oceanside). Adorned with the cartoon image of a manic, debauched version of Wile E. Coyote, the cover serves as a perfect encapsulation of what will follow in the music - brilliantly degenerate and wanton jocularity.

On opener, 'Lupine Kiss', Pharoah Sanders-esque baritone bursts pierce the dark film of rumbling bass and taut kick drum, rapidly building to the outro-refrain of "She blows", incessantly howled by Plummer in his most wolfish tone. 'Plastic Factory' is a similar affair of crunching guitars and swaggering horns. Saxophonist James Allsopp's solo is a squealing, soaring killer, and Plummer declares defiantly: "Factory's no place for me/ Bossman please let me be".

The sultry ballad-cum-sea-shanty grinds from one quivering bass note to another, containing such life-affirming lyrics as "Tis the season to be cold swinging upside down", and "But darling didn't you know that the heart must bleed and bleed". A brilliantly eerie number, it wouldn't be out of place at a funeral march on the Queen Anne's Revenge. Almost as good anything from The Birthday Party's catalogue, 'No Reason' showcases an encouraging development in the band's song writing ability.

It's back to business with closer 'Pokie Eye Poke Ya", another ripper featuring the best strangled screech of a sax riff yet. Rollicking along to an apocalyptic climax "Pokie Eye Poke Ya" evokes images of an afrobeat jazz-rock version of Metal Machine Music mixed with grime and jungle rhythms, perforated by Plummer's grating, gnashing growl.

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