When we last heard Last Wars it was hard-boiled and rasp-filled and retro electric, like a B-side of ‘Saturn Strip’ Vega. But now we get polish, and pumped up production, in an EP that flexes and kicks. All those blueprints remain, it’s still neon and crooked, still wrapped up in circuit-bent fuzz. The newness is purpose, a rough sense of play, and a new thickened world to hip-deep in.
‘Pale Fire’ is a track that slams Kraut rock and 80’s avant-garde gothic pop together so hard we hear them both clatter. There’s tight frantic glitches and bright snares galore, there’s long wailing noise from New Order guitars, there’s a bass buzz that bristles and bucks. There’s a tough spike and speed, and as it seamlessly shifts through its post-scuzz progressions, we don’t notice the length of the song. By the time we hit end point, we’ve spun from bedroom elctro to post-punk and back, via new-wave and vast synthpop grandeur. It’s all so cohesive, it don’t drop a beat, and beyond that, it’s just so damn cool.
Next up we strip down to a bruised disco grove that Cabaret Voltaire could have carved. But this time we don’t drench in noise, we get something that lands close to sweet. Synths shunt a pulse that’s relentless and crude, chimes push their high tones right through, and like an extended mix of a cult classic track, we get jitters of sound and arpeggio hits that take turns to build and let loose. It’s cleaner and wider, meaner and thinner, ‘Frail Communion’ belongs on black vinyl.
So dig deep and let slip to the slick. It’s a treat I’ve been sitting on for more than too long. More from Last Wars will always be welcome.