Upon first bite, the barrage of percussive onslaught devouring itself from both ends of a sweet tooth, experimental noise-prog nerd punk duo, Gorgeous has a brand new record, and it’s sticky and gunky and jagged and perfectly broken. Out now via Sad Cactus Records, it deploys bigger, deeper distorted riffs this go-round, heavier bass elements with a more focused vocal intent than their previous releases. Graveled in its edges, it is visceral and organic in its execution without straying too far from the quirky charms and Helium-meets-Hella mathy swagger they do so well.
Gorgeous (photo by Michelle LoBianco)
After two leading singles, the lumbering and ominous “Raindrop” (see our thoughts here) and “Elbow Stress Rash,” their ode to isolation-fueled anxiety and its physical manifestations, Dana Lipperman (guitar, vocals) and Judd Anderman (drums) have only begun to scratch the surface across the breadth and depths of this work. There’s an ebb and flow, a pulse throughout the album that inherently feels like a live performance. Parts of it are overblown and fuzzed out, while others slick and shiny.
Much of Saspucker is wonderfully dark clouds; an intense storm passing across the beautifully ravaged doom organ, often ZOIA-esque circuit in landscape. It’s chorus in the land of monsters. On “Big Hands,” Lipperman declares “Hold my hand. Lick my fingers” before the tape slowly unwinds and drops into a sub bass universe. This is no longer your kinder gentler Gorgeous, it’s anxious and it’s chaotic. For songs like “Lovebug” and “New Paltz Waltz,” she pits subtle acoustic guitars against hard gated riffs and Anderman’s staggered heartbeat like some sort of ASMR jangle. A rare call to order, on “Keep it Steady,” the pair does just that, allowing the drums and vocals to carve out a brief moment of brewing balance and calm between the phased feedback and confusion.
Gorgeous live (photos by Kate Hoos)
Not to make a glass onion of things, but while Sapsucker is one of those records that indeed floors you from the get, further listens open new sonic textures as the layers rub and tear and wash against one another. Lyrically confident, it makes no bones in exposing vulnerable anxiety. And while also frenzied and complex—almost contradictory at times—the mood which you bring to your listening heavily shapes and colors the experience. There are spots where you can easily get lost in the fantasy realm to which it belongs, often the door-knocking of the kick drum the only thing tethering you back to the world. It comes full circle as the end is the beginning is the end leaving you fairly confident that Anderman is the sweet and Lipperman is the tooth.
Sapsucker is out now via Sad Cactus Records and available on Bandcamp and all major streamers.