The underground rumble’s been approaching slowly and steadily for some years; now, with this second album, Sunderland’s This Aint Vegas should blast forth from chalky sediment and gritty topsoil and into the homes and hearts of every post-punk aficionado countrywide.
Certain adjectives require spilling asunder prior to our continuation: ‘spiky’, ‘angular’, ‘taut’, ‘northern’. All are obvious, and suitably applicable. Yet there’s something else, something uncommon in so much British punk rock, that sets This Aint Vegas apart from whatever pack they’ll inevitably be shoehorned into post …Don Benito…’s release. There’s a primordial rage within these songs; they possess a heart that beats faster and harder than any other bands of their ilk, be they of the near-neighbour mainstream-bothering variety (to whom This Aint Vegas will be compared in particular publications) or of a grotty ‘n’ snotty garage punk upbringing. The necessary melodies are there – twisted and pained, admittedly – but the overriding feeling that permeates the brain is one of unparalleled passion, of primal and unprecedented urgency. What This Aint Vegas do at a base structural level isn’t spectacular; how they conduct their business, however, absolutely is.
Take the opening pair of ‘How Clear Can You Be? (Part 1)’ (Part 2 closes proceedings) and ‘At Me’: when dissected into their component parts these songs are obviously simple, bearing the hallmarks of Dischord influence on top of the post-punk standard bearers. Yet the mechanics when fully assembled are quite something. Adam Rose and Richard Amundsen spar vocally, while guitars are mangled into incomprehensible shapes and drums smashed to little more than splinters. Rhythms grow, and as they do so they distort and disfigure, becoming something like the post-punk you know, but wholly fresh to the senses.
‘Escape’ is a slow-burner, a gentle opening collapsing under the weight of a thousand screams honed by a hundred in-a-row shows. Drum beats scatter the ashes of guitars toasted to charcoal scraps, and the twin vocalists go about their business unhurried yet aware of the impending chaos. When it comes, finger tips tingle and toes wiggle furiously. Hands stretch to stereo; rewind is enabled.
The pace slows, then the volume swells; the vocals sigh, then the singers scream; the guitars chime, then their strings are wrenched from their frets. Across eleven tracks, not one of which necessitates the implementation of the skip function. Cutting the hyperbolic crap: The Night Don Benito Saved My Life is a joy.
It’d be easy to go on, rejoining the tangent of the paragraph before last, picking each song up on its overwhelming merits. Really, though, only one thing needs to be known: it’s stated perfectly clearly in that opening paragraph.
8Mike Diver's Score