Swell Maps – A Trip To Marineville

Warning: Some of you may be offended by the following tenuous link.

Hey guys! There’s that new Twilight Movie out this week! Rather exciting if you like reading pap. But did you know that it takes until the fourth book, the bloody fourth, to get really mental. Like proper mental. I have it on good authority that in the fourth instalment the girl finally succumbs to having sex with the vampire bloke, she gets bitten and becomes a vampire and then becomes pregnant with a vampire baby. Amazing. It took four books for the creator to introduce borderline necrophilia (technically vampires are dead, right?) into a teen romantic book full of gumph. It took four books and probably about 900 pages to get mental.

The point being that Solihull’s Swell Maps take no time at all in telling you that they’re completely mental. Instruments sound like they’re verging on breaking, most songs are one-two minute ramshackle affairs and its all the better for it.

The first four songs sounds like Public Image Ltd having a fight with The Members with Wire and Gang of Four shouting “Hit him, John” at them. Four of the best examples of punk music in it’s rawest form. When we get to Harmony In the Bathroom though things become a bit more experimental. The introduction of sounds that aren’t instruments, notes delivered like belches, the hammering of a piano. This is what it would sound like if you went into the brain of David Icke. Mental.

Scattered through the record at certain intervals are what I have called ‘musical episodes.’ Blokes talking in Brummie accents over various stuff planted together.

Full Moon In My Pocket, Blam! and Full Moon (Reprise) are basically one song split into three tracks thus providing the album’s only real moment of solid consistency. Usually this would be a fault to pick the band up on yet the incoherence is the absolute crux of A Trip To Marineville.

From then on in it’s equal parts spiky, equal parts experimentation. Extended songs matched by equally brief songs. Noise is balanced by pure rawk. Snotty delivery and slurred words. Musical historians will look back on this album and label it post-punk seeing as this album was on the cusp of that genre’s inception but this is one of the truest straight up punk albums you may probably ever hear.

Nowadays this album gets a lot of attention because of the resurgence in ‘noise rock’ (No Age, Health etc) and other such genres but I think we can safely assume that there won’t be another record made like this or, crucially, as good as this. It might take a few listens to click but seriously stick with this album (even the song that sounds like a bunch of monks) because it really is as good as the cool cats say.

Swell Maps can and should be listened to here.

Next week on Spotify Tapes Chuck E Weiss.

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