Thee Oh Sees

Warm Slime

Working with Thee Oh Sees front-man John Dwyer must be something of a double-edged sword for musicians. On the one hand, band members must be rubbing their hands gleefully at the prospect of another pay-day (not that bands this size ever really make any real profit, of course). On the other hand, their leader cranks out so much material that he must have them working – if not in the studio then playing live – seven days a week. Since 1997, Dwyer has fronted or played in at least a dozen bands, most notably Pink And Brown, Coachwhips and the Hospitals, and his latest release, Warm Slime, will be the eleventh full-length album to fall under the umbrella of Thee Oh Sees project. His band-mates must consider him a pretty hard task-master.

Thee Oh-Sees – I Was Denied by hells-belles

Not surprisingly for a writer churning out tracks at such a prolific rate, quality control is not always of the same standard, but Dwyer has steadily honed his craft since the early, home-recorded OCS releases. To this end, Warm Slime can be seen as an improvement on last year’s Help, and arguably Dwyer’s best work to date. The album is split into two halves: the first is dedicated to the fourteen minute long (!) title track, with six shorter songs on the B-side. ‘Warm Slime’ (the song) is, as you might expect from it’s length, something of a monster; starting off as a relatively straightforward garage-rock jam, it gradually mutates into something more akin to twelve-bar blues, then a Creedence-style country-blues jam, then into a call-and-response gospel-type affair. By the end of the track, it’s throbbing bass and stark rhythmic pulse has hinted at a sort of minimalist kosmische, and finished up as some swampy, voodoo psychedelia. Suffice to say it’s a heavy trip but, amazingly, every second of it’s playing time is justified.

The album’s second half feels like an EP-length song cycle in itself. The insanely catchy ‘I Was Denied’, with its hollered "la-la-la" chorus, is an infectious cross between the sleek rock ‘n’ roll of Love As Laughter, and the Banana Splits theme. The eerie, 60s-aping ‘Everything Went Black’ stomps along on the back of a martial drumbeat and features some all-too-brief moments of guitar/keyboard interplay, before the band switch to breakneck punk mode for the bratty rattle of ‘Castiatic Tackle’. The spectres of Suicide and the Cramps hang over the droning ‘Flash Bats’, which fades in as if we’ve interrupted some particularly intense, Oneida-like psych jam. ‘Mega Feast’ is the album’s only real throwaway track, a discordant mess of detuned guitars zipping aimlessly over metronomic drums, before ‘MT Work’ brings us back full-circle with another raucous chant-along. It ends on a drum fill that sounds like a perfect lead-in to another track, and it’s tempting to wonder if maybe ‘Warm Slime’ was originally intended as the record’s epic closer; if perhaps the vinyl came back from the pressing plant with the labels printed on the wrong sides and Dwyer just thought "Ah, fuck it". Most likely, though, it’s an intentional inversion of convention, a typically perverse gesture and a fitting end to a wonderfully sick album.

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