Thee Spivs – Taped Up (album, Damaged Goods)

Tearing in like a switchblade through the fecal velour of a cinema seat comes the debut album from this much talked about Hackney trio. Taped Up gathers momentum across its fourteen tracks – no mean feat when the disc begins with a track such as the chant-a-log ‘radio’ – the aural equivalent of a cloud of dust through which only the occasional flying fist can be glimpsed. The snotty amphetimined nihilism of the opener rams hard into the jagged edge of ‘Leave Me Alone’, a crisp and confrontational track that channels ennui into anger, the way they did it back in ’76.

Despite the exemplary punk start, Thee Spivs have more than one way of stringing three chords together, as is made immediately apparent by ‘I’m Alive’ – a bleeding limbed chunk of garaged up g-g-graveyard stompery topped by defiant vocals that sound as if they are being beamed in from an adjacent ossuary. ‘What’s Wrong With You’ sees the band back on the little blue pills as taut guitars and cheek-chewingly precise vocals mash together to create a jetstream of Dexedrine desperation.

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This is a totally wired album, both in execution and the frantic way in which the group dip into a grab bag of influences – some are hurled across the room, while others are squeezed hard. ‘Too Many People’ is an urgent broth that mixes early Undertones and Rezillos with something that sounds like a vastly superior version of Eater. Lyrically, boredom is never far from the agenda. Similarly rooted in the spirit of 1978 is ‘Uncle’s Got An ASBO’, wherein ramalama Ramonics bounce of walls and we all get to ride home in a police van.

Although the tracks are delivered with vim, at something approaching escape velocity, there’s no shortage of rough and ready melodies (often of the kind exemplified by such catchy vintage punk as Rudi’s ‘Big Time’). Both the title track and ‘I Don’t Want It’ exemplify this with absolute economy, the latter being 98 seconds of perfectly rendered minimum rock’n’roll. Indeed ‘Taped Up’ represents the point at which the album hits a palpitating, lung-busting stride; its irresistible chorus topping a contemporary fable of urban exclusion like a white stiletto atop a bus shelter. Likewise, penultimate track ‘It’s True’ demonstrates that jackhammer rhythms and lo-fi dirty fuzz are not mutually exclusive to an infectious choon.

‘Invisible Man’ is an impressive change of pace, which sees six hands turned to a spot of neon-lit garage. ‘Fence Hop’ runs whooping from garageland all the way down to the shores of Rockaway Beach, kicking up clouds of serrated fuzz hullygully en route. There’s even the kind of implied menace neo-instrumental that would engorge Link Wray – ‘Head Hunt’ (it’s all churning voodoobilly and nasty soloing until the screaming starts). ‘Men Don’t Cry’ concludes Taped Up with a trip into Hasil Adkins’ ‘Love Me’ territory, a glorious cataclysm of fractured psychosis, whispered entreaties and feminine moaning. It’s a supreme finale to a disc from the(e) kind of Spivs who know where to score the good shit.


Originally posted 2011-03-18 19:52:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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