Oooh, arty. As far as current musical duos go, it seems the south coast has got one of the darker, quirkier and more laterally-thinking twosomes in **A+E Line**, the sort of band you’d think were utterly twee if they weren’t dealing in shaded, twisting electronic pulsations and sharp flecks of guitar.
Their debut album ‘Train Wrecks’ is a flailing kind of album that finds itself spasming all over the map, not only musically but also in terms of whatever it is they’re trying to actually say to us. For a band that can sing about the relative merits of Christopher Walken, tell tales of stabbing innocent bystanders and call each other gheylords within half and hour, it’s difficult to tell precisely where they’re at or, indeed, where the bloody hell they think they’re going with my curiosity tucked under their arm.
At first, it seems they’re some sort of robotic accumulation of all that is angular in music at the moment, and a great deal that probably will be in the future. Early moments like ‘Time Time Time’ and ‘Too Much Time’ are, whether they’d want to admit it or not, the resulting twitchy downbeat frazzle when you try and mix folktronica, spiky four-strings, the archness of arthouse indie (did someone at the back say ‘Franz’?) and a drum kit they call Roboto-Chan. But before long they’ve shifted identity almost completely, with ‘Christopher Walken’ literally being elements of the plot from Wayne’s World 2 sung in a bizarre anti-folk stylee. When they croon lines like “Chris Walken, I’m gonna kick your fucking teeth in” it’s hard to know whether they intend to make you piss yourself in either fits of laughter or bouts of terror. Similarly in ‘Short Story’, where the narrator tells of how he slashes to death a wrongly-accused child for smashing his car up, all over a slow-burning bed of atmospheric techno, you can’t really tell whether they want you to think they’re being darkly humorous or... well, just plain dark.
Whereas often the artist’s intentions don’t really matter when being interpreted by the listener, here it just makes things even more confusing... and, perhaps to their advantage, more intriguing. It’s almost as if they can’t help shed their skin after a couple of tracks, which poses questions of whether they’re really just pulling our collective leg or trying to shock us with such bizarre nihilistic handling of the album format. Whatever it is, though, it ain’t dull, and for that we should be thankful.
With other highly polarised gems like ‘I Scream Driver’ (all widdly guitar solos and the lo-fi metal Eighties Matchbox might produce if they upped the goth factor) and ‘Summer Sun’ (jangly and optimistic paean to the hottest season, sprinkled with faint glitching noises) it’s probably the case that this lot could comfortably fit into just about any pop genre of their choosing, but in darting haphazardly across musical influences they easily retain a sense of sordid interest from the listener. A band with a healthy disregard for pigeonholes, then, just an unhealthy penchant for the grotesque. Watch this space.
7Thomas Blatchford's Score