(DZ Tapes, 2011)
Look, I don’t know if these dudes are for real – you know, if they’re really from Russia or what. Two supposedly Moscow teens – Pyotr Reznikov and Matvei Solovyov – whipped together a frenzy of dirty garage proto-punk, clearly recorded in less than an afternoon (and that’s not a bad thing), and dumped it unceremoniously on DZ Tapes, a small but well-designed specialty label. I think they’re from Cincinnati, or somewhere in Ohio. I don’t think they’re from Russia, despite the Cyrillic album title.
But my skepticism is based solely on something I think I read somewhere one time. That’s hardly worthy of a footnote.
Forget it, it’s not part of the narrative – yet, anyway – so we can skip it for now. I initially passed on listening to this when it first came out, for a couple of reasons. First, band name – ugh. But again, if these guys are really Russian teens, we can forgive them, as their grasp of English likely wouldn’t get them much further. So I’m now finally past their dorky moniker. Second, album title. Couldn’t read it, wasn’t gonna get the subtext, if any. Third, and perhaps most important: their artwork sucks. Terrible, terrible hack job. Which, if I’m charitable, I can now find somewhat endearing coming from the Soviet east, and if the band’s story is a put-on, I can still find endearing, because it made me think of developing nations finally getting their hands on design software. If this was just-post–Berlin Wall Russia, that would make more sense, but anyway.
Again, throw it all out, because the music is downright lovable, and surprisingly catchy. The boys are scuzzy and grimy, sure, but sneaky melodies peek through the grunge (as in dirt, not Pearl Jam), and hook you, earworm-style, right in the pleasure neck, ripping arteries as the fishing line becomes taut. Metaphors pile on top of each other in descriptions, rendering this exercise useless. Blood is literally everywhere, which is weird, because there’s a song called “Blood Everywhere,” and it’s a cheeky synthy cowboy handclap song in the middle of the record totally at odds with the garage pop sound. They bait their hooks here and there with soft, Roy Orbison–style moments, like “Words of Love.” Their outro is a dreamy wash called “Snuggle and Die.” Only in Moscow.
Again, I’m juggling a bunch of conflicting thoughts, and you might want to forget I said anything and just take a listen. I’m glad I finally did, because there are actual nuggets of quality songwriting here – fourteen of them in fact – despite regrettable press quotes from the band simplifying their existence into dumbass snippets like, “[Wavepool Abortion is] like maybe The Ramones and The Beatles taking a big shit.” No, Wavepool Abortion – you’re better than that, and it’s about time you started acting like it.
Wait – forget I said that. Act like teenagers rocking the garage! That’s why I like you to begin with.
RIYL: Reading Rainbow, Times New Viking, Eat Skull, Roy Orbison