Given where the Gordons eventually ended up with Bailter Space, it's little surprise that the band's excellent first album sounds the way it does, with Parker's instantly recognizable vocals on "Spik and Span" already shot through with the weary energy that made later albums like Thermos and Robot World so grand. There are definite hints of Mark E. Smith's snarl and whine in his approach, but even more impressive is the group's ear for structured melancholy and explosion. The comparisons after the fact to Sonic Youth were understandable, but it's more accurate to say that in the early-'80s they were both listening to plenty of things like Wire and Joy Division and translating it accordingly. The clipped, repetitive structure of "Sometimes," in particular, calls the former band to mind, with lyrics quietly groaned over the circular anti-funk riffing. Hints of what would eventually be known as the experimental New Zealand rock sound -- crumbling guitar, muffled vocals, and more, as also seen in bands like This Kind of Punishment -- are also present, with songs like "Growing Up" and "Coalminers Song" having a fair amount of the same. Generally speaking, though, the Gordons want to be known directly rather than sneaking in from the side. The songs mostly come in at around five minutes or longer, time for the threesome to explore sonic motifs to the point where they achieve a hint of low-grade motorik trance -- again a harbinger of the more openly obsessed Krautrock future with Bailter Space. Even at their most rampaging, the three have a nicely arty overlay -- consider the sepulchral vocals on "Right on Time" interspersed with bass freakouts amidst the feedback-laden charge. "Laughing Now" ends the album on an at once chaotic and slow-moving note that doesn't drag, sort of a cousin to the likes of early Pere Ubu and Alternative TV.
Link in comments