Artist: Disco Doom Album: Numerals Label: Exploding in Sound Standout tracks: Ex-Teenager, Zonk, Rock Yeah [xrr rating=3.75/5]
Disco Doom are a band who have been plugging away steadily for quite some time now – their first release rkrr came out in 2002, but you’d never know from their latest album. Numerals, out on December 11th via Exploding in Sound, is as fresh as anything you’ll hear this year, which is an impressive feat for a band who have been around for at least 13 years (yeah, you’re old.)
It’s not always cohesive, tracks tend to awkwardly usher the preceding and following songs in and out, on the face of it without a lot of thought or planning. You get the feeling, though, that this is a deliberate thing – the entire album is an experiment, designed to challenge the ears of the listener, as well as the eyes; the album art is a bizzare Lynchian image of an open hand in front of a cloudy black backdrop which seems to be presenting some sort of crown shaped object to the listener. It’s all a bit hard to work out, but it works as long as you buy into it as a piece of art rather than simply a pop album. It’s good to hear something a little challenging, too – it’s probably limited the band’s fanbase over the years but to keep artistic integrity is something which must always be respected.
The reason their irreverent style has probably limited the band’s fanbase is because Disco Doom is a group of musicians who clearly know how to write a song. It’s almost what these tracks are; deformed, mutated pop songs. ‘Dead Eye’ is probably the track that threatens to be most conventional, a lo-fi rock song driven by robust percussion and containing a great guitar riff, dangerously close to being a hook. ‘Rock Yeah’ is probably the highlight, a delightfully self-aware title which succinctly describes the track pretty well.
Up to this point, the whole album has been a bit of a tease – there have been some big guitar parts, but it’s always felt like Disco Doom have been holding back somewhat. Here, though, we open with a rather unassuming melody which fades off into a nice clean guitar part, foreshadowing what’s to come – a huge, everlasting crescendo which just feels like a big “fuck yeah!” and is incredibly satisfying to hear.
Essentially it’s a bit of a mixed bag, ‘Window’ and ‘Wanna go to Rockaway Beach’ are both just simple, pleasant enough piano pieces which would conceivably work in a live venue, giving the band and the audience a break between art-rock experimentation, but on a record seem a little tacked on. Tracks like ‘Ex Teenager’, ‘Zonk’ and ‘Rice & Bones’ is where you’ll be able to really sink your teeth into this album; not to say the slower songs don’t work, they’re just a little more challenging to put into context here.
Not for the faint of heart, Numerals proves to be a challenging journey into the world of art-rock, satisfying at times and a little bewildering at others