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Big Business
The Beast You Are Tom Coles , April 16th, 2019 08:41

Big Business may sound like a bunch of dads slugging cheerfully over a barbecue, but who else makes heavy music this charming? asks Tom Coles

Big Business's musical aesthetic leans towards cheerful dads meeting at a barbecue, then jamming out next week in Walter's workshop. Imagine a universe where, instead of grinding tedium, this produces a throaty and driving sludge rock record. The dads are finally vindicated, their suburban disbelievers bowled over by their off-kilter rock thunder.

The Beast You Are, like previous cuts, is warm and fun even when it dips a hairy toe into atonal noise, extended bell solos, or ferocious percussive breaks. It owes a lot to sludge metal but it's not as stodgy or dour; probably the worst thing you could say about their new offering is that they never really banish the ghost of The Melvins, despite literally stepping out of their shadow to make this record. But this seems a little harsh when Beast is so big-hearted, and Buzz Osborne is an infamous grouch.

Kinetic and ambitious, their familiar quirks are on display – the bells, the vocal acrobatics, the biceps-on-biceps approach to drums that Coady Willis has perfected. Here, BB's attitude to experimentation is a shade more restrained, the really wild stuff – like the jagged ‘We Can Swarm’ – is regulated to tracks under a minute. This gives longer offerings like ‘Heal the Weak’ and ‘Last Family’ the space to just be straightforward bangers, albeit peppered with their colourful whimsy.

In fact, the record has a deceptively strong architecture, allowing them to veer off-script whilst retaining discipline. The record opens with some solid additions to their AAA-status tracks, then takes an early trip to the bar with the ghostly ‘Complacency is Killing You’. Things get a little weirder after that, culminating halfway through with ‘We'll Take the Good Package’. Some clear progression has been made on things like songwriting and structure, songs a little quicker to get to the point; ‘Heal the Weak’ and ‘Bright Grey’ are economical, bombastic and vital.

The Beast You Are is goofy fun, which shines through in the puns (‘The Moor You Know’, ‘Abdominal Snowman’…) and the curiously bright, full vocal harmonies. It’s these moments of inclusiveness and warmth that justify them playing around with their endless cascades of tom fills and bell detours and shouty noise rock.

Ultimately, Beast is smart and cohesive but still joyous and daft. It’s hard to be too much of a dork about this; who else is doing heavy music with this much charm?