Reviews

LEWD ACTS GIVE US THE BLACK EYE BLUES

Rating
80

lewdacts

Contrasting with the unsettling amount of mind-numbing sonic uniformity dominant in today’s American hardcore scene, San Diego’s Lewd Acts offer a much needed corrective, as made so evident with Black Eye Blues, their new album for Jacob Bannon’s Deathwish Inc. imprint. Sure, the band serve up enough uptempo cuts to fuel the savagely vibrant circle pits we’ve all come to expect at hardcore shows, be they at recreation centers, dive bars, or mid-sized general admission concert venues. Yet as with labelmates Narrows, Lewd Acts infuses creative growth and artistic progression into a genre largely categorized by its ironic stagnancy.

Following the tense, sludgy, theme-defining intro of “Know Where To Go”, the fury is unleashed on “Wide Black Eyes,” a classic slice of two-minutes-or-less hardcore with all the trimmings. Rightly so, Lewd Acts front-load this album with a few more like this before throwing its first genuine sonic curveball, a slow spoken word dirge called “Who Knew The West Coast Could Be So Cold?”. Here, vocalist Tyler Densley tones down his roar for an even more unsettling rasp as he rants against a backdrop of muted drumwork and comparative clean guitar and bass. It is immediately followed by “Penmanship Sailed,” perhaps this fantastic album’s best track. Fueled by a low, crunchy and driving bassline as if ripped from some discarded B-side for Helmet’s classic ‘Meantime’ LP, this killer tune (the album’s longest) builds to a grand finish of pounding percussion and soaring riffage.

Throughout Black Eye Blues, Lewd Acts do their absolute damnedest to subtly subvert conventional hardcore with extremely well-executed tracks full of cutting melodies and immolating dissonance. The otherwise blistering “Young Lovers, Old Livers” carries a sumptuously anthemic chorus that only gets more potent on repeated listens. This is not to say that the band have gone the pop-punk route; rather, they have embraced the nonconformity of their forefathers like Black Flag while shunning the trends and metallic tendencies of their peers. As a result, Black Eye Blues more than just stands out among this year’s hardcore records; it ranks among 2009’s best overall albums.

-GS

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(4 out of 5 horns)

[Gary Suarez is a soul man. He usually manages the consistently off-topic No Yoko No. Say, why don’t you follow him on Twitter?]

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