Saturday, May 18, 2013

Broken Water-Normal Never Happened 7" EP (2010)

As with every revivalist movement, the neo-'90s craze we're experiencing right now is mostly a pile of stinking, retrograde dogshit. Among a horde of contenders, only a few bands have really held up past the "haha, yeah, that reminds me of this one Nirvana riff...." moment. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, only Whirl/Whirr, Psychic Blood, and especially Broken Water are worth a damn in the all-important longevity category. These are the current bands with riffs heavy enough that you actually listen to them for reasons other than that you've worn out your copy of Loveless (again).

Enter Normal Never Happened. Broken Water has sometimes been criticized for writing great songs and never pulling off a great album, but when the songs are as good as the eponymous opener and "Faux King Vogue," it doesn't matter. If I want album-length coherence I'll listen to Godspeed You! Black Emperor or fuckin' Beethoven, thankyouverymuch. "Normal Never Happened" opens with a riff and beat as savage as "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World". It's a trick of production, I'm guessing, that the song is in fact heavier than Neil Young, but still: Broken Water means business, muhfuh. One of the things that separates them from the competition is their skill in creating songs with abrupt changes in mood and tempo, without losing intensity. "NNH" is a great example of this: around 40 seconds, the song slides from full-on rock brutality to a echo-chamber-like solemnity of spacey guitar, light-as-a-feather singing, and a rhythm section relegated to metronome status. As with most of BW's best work, Jon Hanna's guitar wizardry is front and center: the transition from Young-style freakrock to Bardo Pondesque spaciness is effortless. Even better is the drastically abrupt move, around 3:43, back to muddy guitar machinework.  "Faux King Vogue" is another case of how Broken Water manages to meld influences into something entirely their own: the song morphs back and forth between flippant Thurston Mooreisms and crunching feedback heaven without sounding awkward or contrived. It spirals towards sonic oblivion with a sense of control and mastery far too rare among the "I wanna be MBV" set. In short, these brief two songs contain all the reverb and tone you could possibly ask for in a record, and are perfect for getting blackout drunk in the afternoon, as your humble narrator is doing right now.

It's total trash! I don't know if the EP is still in print, but if it is, email Midheaven Mailorder and BUY IT!