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Thee Alcoholics
Feedback Alex Deller , February 15th, 2024 09:02

There is something deeply unsettling about Thee Alcoholics peculiar blend of wrong rock, finds Alex Deller

Like mysterious brown sediment lurking at the bottom of a bad pint, a full-length album from Thee Alcoholics suggests two things: intoxication and a thoroughly upset system. Feedback is no different. It follows a series of cassettes and EPs for the eminent Wrong Speed Records, along with a fractured live set released in collector scum quantities by Human Worth. Sharing stable space and DNA with some of the UK’s finest peddlers of weird, wrong rock music means even the unacquainted might expect some puzzlingly left-of-centre sounds, and such suspicions are well met. 

Given that frontman Rhys Llewellyn (a.k.a. Drmcnt, a.k.a. Acidliner) has served time with Hey Colossus, it’s unsurprising that Feedback busies its snout in a sort of motorik kosmische-grunge. The line tapped here, though, is temperamental and clogged with a strange, noxious gloop that bubbles, clots and separates in increasingly unappetising ways. Llewellyn’s vocals come as a series of mucky gurgles and slurred incoherencies, as though he’s fighting a losing battle against grimy, lock-grooved riffs that start back on themselves almost as soon as they’ve begun. One of these sounds like a malevolent take on Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn theme, while another appears to be a section of Suicide’s ‘Ghost Rider’ mashed to a meaningless paste by The Melvins. 

While it isn’t gnarly enough to place them in sludge metal or noise-rock territory, there’s nevertheless something unsettling about it all. The music is disorienting, placing the listener in a vomit-coloured version of reality that seems never-ending yet strangely impermanent: a place where everything feels at risk of change, even if the scenery remains the same. As such, it’s telling that the album’s most ‘comforting’ moments come via ‘What’s The Crack (What’s The Story)’ and ‘You’re The Zero’. These tracks, respectively, recall standing and watching a drain slowly overflow, and Girls Against Boys having a mental breakdown during an all-night horror movie marathon. 

At this point in history there’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic did some pretty disastrous things to our collective psyche, and the fact that lockdown projects like Thee Alcoholics continue to wallow in their abnormalities speaks volumes. It feels like all their negative experiences from March 2020 to this point have been distilled and decanted into Feedback, and the delirious discomfort of it all is enough to make you puke. Funnily enough, though, it’s also bizarrely moreish – so much so that you can’t help but wobble your way back to the bar to slug back yet another foul-smelling shot.