Post-punk gunk from this duo from Pretoria, South Africa. The four tracks on this EP bristle with fury, shoulders hunched, face set in a murderous scowl, cig pinched between thumb and forefinger. What are YOU looking at sonny?
All the usual suspects from the more abrasive end of the post-1977 bunch are present and correct – The Fall, Gang of Four, Mekons and the like – as well as newer runts like Liars, before they veered into more synth-led territory. But the sheer grumpy aplomb of this EP gives the skinny corpse of that much-imitated music a new kicking.
The music is wiry and naggingly infectious. Opener Surprize nails down a heavy bass plod, stubbornly refusing to budge as a tarnished guitar jangles and scrapes like an oddity from the Peel show in 1982. Never Enough is another good ‘un, this one smuggling a cheap Goth guitar line into the mix, as double-tracked vocals mix gruff urgency with sweet harmony.
Jellybean rounds things off with rockabilly swagger, albeit a hollow-cheeked dead-eyed one, although not before the band have coughed up a hairball of fuzzy pop in Sharp Teeth. It’s a gem, a forgotten Gil Norton-era Pixies tune on downers.
Nice. Listen to the vocals, though, and the perky aggression shifts to something more sobering. The mood becomes weary and worn down. Frustration is tinged with an inchoate despair.
Lyrics are fragmentary, masked in distortion and echo, often repeating the song’s title with a minimum of embellishment or variation. A rusty mantra. “There’s never enough, for us, for me, for you”; “Surrender all your jellybeans”; “I’ve been shot down all my life”. These are despatches from life on the margins. People under pressure. Beat down, broke, ignored, hungry, unemployed, lied to, maligned, ripped off, abused, and sold down the river. It ain’t pretty.
If this record were any longer, it would be oppressive and alienating in its chilling evocation of disenfranchisement. Over these four punchy tunes, it is an enervating wake up call. A skinny fist raised to the sky. A bulletin from an oncoming tumult.