You could hunt around looking for fat to trim off but you’d be hard pushed to find much to cut. Personality Cult’s new debut LP is a lean hard wired helping of short, sharp, sweet tracks packed with thin wry-lipped smiles and breezy snot nosed punk.
Cue the loose throwbacks to Buzzcocks, Magazine, Wavves, Raincoats, White Riot style Clash, all wrapped in a wrapper of seemingly easily throw-away crunches, don’t-give-a-crap attitude and nitpicking hooks that dig in and stick.
We open with Burned; a blister-pack workout of coast hugging trash with clattering snares, highend splash hats and mess all reigned in and ripped out and wrought . It’s a snapshot, a bullet shaped landscape, the speed and intention for this LP is set. Drums and bass run the show under fuzzed punctuation of restless guitars ’til a smooth 1970s NY punk infused wail picks its way out the dirt. Could Personality Cult be a nod that direction? I’ll leave you listen and speculate.
The numbers that come next up do not disappoint, coming in quickfire 1 to 2 minutes slabs. While they never stray far from the template set up, there are pinprick new tricks in each track… The fleeting twin pinched guitars that cut through Hot Head could have been ripped out of Queen. Hop-scotching basslines push Fed to the Lions up into and out of its clatter. Simplified drum smacks and stylized synth squeals, plus a wolf-whistle sax squelch for good measure, add new shine to Functioning Fine.
With Brazen we’re back near the three minuet mark, ‘I’m so crazy / You will never have the patience / I’m so crazy / Guilty of the charge’ is a petulant hook between scatterbrain sections of Elton Motello-esque nu veau dumb punk.
Where the ‘tude serves so well in the tracks served so far, Heart Attack shows the throw-away too close to home. It’s the cleanest of cut and dry on here, a showcase of past post punk, no frills. I’m missing those genre and scope bending pin pricks that make this album shine out elsewhere.
Dong Worse is a brother to Brazen and paves way for the instant (self) gratification of the junk jumbled Fashionably Late . Scatterbrained lurches in bass bends and spikes speed through their fractured repeats, a new instant earworm plucked up from the dust to wipe off and keep in back pocket. But it’s the closing two tracks, Dead Weight and Motivation, that truly bring us back to the drop-zipper action and genre clash foreplay that made the first half of the album. Grinder spark synths, Martin Hannett style drum play, returned thin twinned guitars, slurred and bent syllables, leather-clad arrogance on point and on form.
Fat to strip off? There aint none. A half-lull in midsection at worst. But when a midsection comes in an album that runs frantic and fast in under 25 minutes, a few moments mind wondering won’t hurt. In fact you might actually need it. It’s a perfectly sized chunk of gristle and grit served raw with sides of grey matter.