John Dwyer’s Castle Face label continues to be the number-one go-to location for joyously fuzzed-up garage-punkishness. Fight Fire, the new album from POW!, fits comfortably into that mold, except with a bit more synth duelling with the guitar over the perpetual motion rhythm section. Lots of fun on vinyl or CD!
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Pow! have impressed us once before and I’m pretty sure they’re threatening to do it again by either fighting fire or writing an album about the hypotheticals of fighting fire. ‘Fight Fire’, as it’s called, is another record of warped humorist post-punk from a cavalcade of fools who seems to trade in black comedy, reverb and no wave shit-stirring. This is Castle Face, after all; they’ve gotta live up to the label’s expectations of delivering music that’s at once peculiar and no-frills.
I’d feel sorry for them, but ‘Fight Fire’ shows they’re more than capable: for a good few of these songs Pow! just shreds their way to the finishing line, breezing through “Liquid Daydream” with a few chords, a couple of echo effects and some gleefully inane lyrics -- he says “it’s alright”, and I believe him, which makes him a good songwriter, I do declare. Straight afterwards they trade their guitars for synths and hash out some kraut ambience, as if they’ve picked us up, thrown us out their front door onto a front garden in outer space. And after that’s over? More quick riffs and punk kerfuffle, delivered under the cover of bedroom lo-fi.
All these songs are short and self-contained, but that doesn’t mean this record is homogenous: if more garage rockers were like this we’d be constantly out of sorts; few of these kind of bands start toying with field recordings or doors squeaking like Pow! do on the hell-filled drone that is “At the Dock”. Few bands recover from it with more rock ‘n’ roll, but that’s what they do, so who cares about anything else.
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