To use the word ‘relaxing’ to describe any aspect of Useless Eaters would be a misnomer. However, the San Francisco-based futuristic punks have decided to call their new album Relaxing Death. An uneasy ride of jittering synths and looping drum machines through a dystopian future that may already be here.
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Kind of like Thee Oh Sees if they were really fucking unhappy with the state of everything, Useless Eaters make a propulsive but I guess ultimately pretty nihilistic garage rock, filling in the bits they forgot to do as a band with drum machines and whirring synths. They may not have much fun making it, but I have a lot of fun listening to it: ‘Relaxing Death’ sweeps you up with its intoxicating pace and makes all the music happening within that timeframe sound good as a result. “Industrial Park” has the riffs, and they rush past you nicely, while the pretty uneventful “Moist Cuts” sounds good just because of its preset beatwork.
The little things Useless Eaters do are nice, with the slithering bassline of “Motorway” the thing I notice on my first playthrough and the straw-sucking guitar oscillation the thing I like about my second. There are little nuggets of sound to play with, which isn’t something I’d usually expect of a hateful lil’ garage rock record. “Cold Machine” sounds like a version of Dick Diver with all the joy sucked out of them, sounding like a tune that was once a lot more bright but got scoured in a distanced, lo-fi production and a snide vocal.
With a splash of experimentation and abstraction, Useless Eaters keep this from being a no frills excursion, using little dotted intros such as “Hogs In The Bush” and the synth blast of “Bunker” to establish some dynamics from song to song. When things get homogenous they blast a hole through the wall with one of their patterned flatlining basslines, which sound worthy of a grumpy Sleaford Mods treatise. It’s a good record that gives you hooks while eating every good feeling in your heart.
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