Beards are a great band you may well have seen blasting out no-waveish post-punk to the joy of audiences across the land. Featuring members of Azores and Commiserations, they’ve honed what they do to a pretty fine point by now, and Nature Proper manages to capture that nicely. Split release between DIY labels Audacious Art Experiment, Ouse Records and Les Potagers Natures.
LP £11.99 AUD038 / OUSE006 / PONAB12
LP on The Audacious Art Experiment / Ouse Records / Les Potagers Natures. Edition of 350 copies in hand-printed sleeve.
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Comprised of members of other quite good noisemakers Commiserations and the dreamy Azores, Beards are taking the scenic route towards raw energy, creating fragments of punk songs that get turned upside down, shaken and then put back together. On ‘Nature Proper’, their knotty riffs walk their way into an impractical drum fill before the whole song changes its point of view, its tempo winding away like a shitty public footpath.
Compared to Beefheart, Beards actually sound more like the Pop Group, struggling to complete songs because their heads are stuck in a world of abstract songwriting, coats of distortion and a general love of misdirection. Kathy Gray leads the band in spitting out sick tunes like “Calipers”, which squeaks out a demarcating riff to sanction off two fairly similar strands of the same song. The best example of Beards’ deceptive songwriting is “Chairs”, a track which develops its smoky, mid-tempo atmosphere by curving the second half of the song around an intermission drumbeat. The song doesn’t climax, rather it just establishes, through that drumbeat, that the second half of the song is its climax; it travels into a final suite in which guitars trace Gray's staccato vocal melody.
Some mathiness is inherent to tracks like “At C”, in which Beards’ guitarist taps at his guitar like it’s a lightswitch -- juxtaposed with a jagged trash of drums and Gray's gulping vocals, it sounds like Don Caballero refusing to get off the stage. The track eventually swings into a mildly sweet vocal harmony, suggesting that what Beards do best is contain multitudes. This is a strange band of subtle but not so subtle geniuses.
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