The Death Set’s moniker gained a grisly new significance in 2009, when founder member Beau Velasco suffered a fatal overdose. But rather than Michel Poiccard being a maudlin affair, the band choose instead to celebrate Velasco’s life in the best way they know: with a high-octane barrage of synthy, shouty trashiness.
Seventeen tracks are crammed into 36 minutes, and to considerable effect. The weaker tunes (and there are several) manage to justify their place by virtue of being constituent parts of the wider onslaught – and besides, if you don’t like one track, you know there’ll be another bursting forth any second. It also means that, within the album’s defined aesthetic, there’s plenty of scope for variety. So while the somewhat Britpop-esque ‘Michel Poiccard Prefers The Old’ struggles to convince, the following four and a half minutes offer not only the snot-nosed insolence of ‘I Like The Wrong Way’, but also the Beastie Boys-ish romp ‘A Problem Is A Problem It Don’t Matter Where You From’ and the exhilarating trebly frenzy of ‘Too Much Fun For Regrets’.
The band’s second album isn’t an entirely relentless affair, mind. The Spank Rock collaboration ‘7pm Woke Up An Hour Ago’, for example, gives a somewhat hazier twist to the band’s characteristic drive and attitude. And perhaps inevitably, when the focus switches more explicitly to Velasco’s demise, things become rather more moving. Album closer ‘Is It The End Again?’ has singer Johnny Siera looking back over his adventures with his erstwhile band mate, the two Aussies having formed the band and relocated to the US together. And the record’s centrepiece, ‘I Miss You Beau Velasco’, is perhaps more poignant still. In spite of its undeniable mosh-pit potential and the indecipherability of the lyrics, it’s a truly bittersweet affair, oozing with melancholy.
But such a moment remains the exception rather than the rule, because really, Michel Poiccard is an inconsistent, raucous, sleazy mess. But that's what The Death Set do best – and you sense that Beau Velasco would approve.
7Dan Cooper-Gavin's Score