THE WORST ALBUM TITLE SINCE CHOCOLATE STARFISH AND THE HOTDOG FLAVORED WATER?
Never in my life have I encountered a signed band that is so obnoxiously awful at choosing names. If one of your friends came up to you and asked you if you’d heard the new Heavy Heavy Low Low album, Turtle Nipple and the Toxic Shock, what would your reaction be? Now, I’m sure these boys are hoping that you’re the curious sort and will tell your friend “Wow, that’s so wacky, I’m gonna check them out,” but I’m hoping that I’m not the only incredulous asshole who will simply answer “That’s retarded, why are we even friends?”
Maybe I’ve just degenerated into a crotchety, disenchanted old man who cannot reconcile how the internet and the MySpace generation have allowed bands like HHLL to thrive despite naming every song after an incomprehensible in-joke. Do I really have to hike up my suspenders, spit out a wad of dip and tell the youngins about the days when bands had their song titles plucked straight from the lyrics? This probably wouldn’t improve things much for this band, but anything has to be better than “Giant Mantis V.S. TURT Nip,” “How many Dad’s must Eat themselves” and “3000, 100 points, 100 pts, Gummy Octopi.” And that’s only the first three (real) songs!
The music itself also failed to amuse me. Falling somewhere between post-punk and mathcore, HHLL’s songs are usually just over a minute in length. They have a spastic energy to them that might remind you of Dillinger Escape Plan, only easily forgettable and not even half as cool.
To the credit of the musicians in the band, these dudes manage to squeeze quite a lot into all these oddly titled, convulsive spasms, running the gauntlet from chilled-out dance beats to dissonant call-response guitar patterns and even some (fake) jazz. However they suffer from what I’d called Grindcoratosis: the ability to write short songs without the ability to fully develop them in the time allotted. As a result ,“Eagle Mewnadria” and “Super Nova Ninja Surfers,” the two longest songs on Turtle Nipple, sound the most deliberately interesting as well.
To the discredit of vocalist Robert Smith, he’s a fucking wreck. While trying to sound like he’s out of breath and desperate, he desperately tries too hard. While I’m sure he’s the kind of guy who has a demented alter-ego for the stage in which some appropriate antics and showmanship might be enough to distract you from his microphone abuse, the studio offers no such amnesty. He is by far the most prominent in the mix, never even tries to hit a single note, and if he keeps screaming like that he’s going to M. Shadows himself.
There’s a lot more I could nit-pick at, but after enough listens my old, icy kvlt heart defrosted a little. HHLL aren’t perfect but their performance is honest, like a bunch of friends jamming with a few brews in hand. They might even be able to write some cool songs if they used their time more efficiently instead of including ten-plus minutes of feedback noise before one last, miserable hidden track. Most bands try to end an album with a bang. That Turtle Nipple ends with a tight-cheeked fart that seems entirely appropriate.
(2 out of 5 horns)