VHS are a bleak-stare post-punk outfit with a fierce outlook and a blasted aesthetic. Main songwriter Josh Hageman uses his day job to provide heavy tales of medical sufferings, which are capably accompanied by the wiry-harsh guitars and relentless rhythm section pummel. Gift of Life is out on Suicide Squeeze (CD, vinyl and clear vinyl editions).
- LP £15.49
- Sold out.
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- SSQ145LPC1 / Limited indies only CLEAR vinyl LP on Suicide Squeeze. Edition of 500 copies
- Includes download code
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Thank you for making a quick album. When you’re making one like ‘Gift of Life’, it’s probably best you keep it brief: littered with vignettes on medical suffering and hospital living, VHS’s record should sound and feel utterly hopeless, but its brevity instead makes the band sound like anxious and unwanting messengers, like officials delivering bad news. This post-punk record trembles out metallic riffs (“Weelchair”), oscillating post-punk melodies (every fucking track) and several deadpan, barely modulated harmonies that seem to suggest total numbness. In sum, ‘Gift of Life’ is a rather poignant record happening too fast for you to think about it: sounds like most every situation I’ve ever dealt with in life.
I suspect this record will sound like many a thing to many a person, bringing to mind Dischord melodramas, plus acts like White Lung bleeding into the Cure in its offering of a slightly fluorescent take on a propulsive punx. For me, though, this record is nascent as fuck: the hooks are strong, and the approach to guitar is some of this year’s most prescient. The breakneck speed, coupled with a surprising amount of there-and-back-again dynamism, means that a hook only gets replaced with another. The riffs are toned from gloomy to triumphantly metal, the latter in some ways offering up hints of the freewheeling (and very different) Tony Molina, who’ll attach a really good riff as if to say “and another thing” right after he’s written the best pop song. It’s a dark record, but it demands you attend to that darkness.
More bands should do what VHS do: rip through your good songs as if no one’s gonna pay them attention. “Binge Everything” doesn’t wait around, launching out of its opening fill onto surfy psychedelia that’s contained into taut, tense punk. “Art Decay” sees the band arrive at an ambient juncture, for about twenty seconds, before the riffs begin to whine and clatter about the place bringing them onto a groaning song that doesn’t know whether to be a thrashy slow march or an orgcore singalong. This record is so many things, so little time, so very good. You never see it coming.
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- Gift of Life by VHS
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