Disappears - Pre-Language
Considering that this is the third album and the localised cult following the band has established, Disappears are still a relatively obscure outfit. This should change with the release of Pre-Language. Assuming the band are moving into the post-punk revival territory which this album seems to suggest then it is an apposite time to do so. Interpol have done nothing of any note since the release of Antics. Editors probably haven't even done anything worthy of note at all. The Organ have split up; the Cinematics have gone quiet; and Kele Okerere has left Bloc Party. Time then for a new set of heroes.
Like a lot of the greatest post-punk, the sound relies heavily on repetition. The establishment of a rhythm is key, and once this has settled down, the guitars are able to move into forays of blasting sound to create the desired effect. The production never allows the music to degenerate into a wall of sound and leaves plenty of space for instrumental development. This creates the impression of a full on sound without making it hard to pick out individual instruments - save in one case - more on that later.
The album opens with "Replicate", a track which signals where the band are going with the album. This is Joy Division after too much Red Bull and with the amplifiers cranked up to eleven. "Hibernation Sickness", the best track on the album, shows many of today's pretenders how it is done, and the White Stripes could learn a thing or two about powerful delivery of otherwise down-and-dirty garage rock. Both tracks are dominated by a compelling melody, the repetition of which forms the basis on which the tracks are constructed. However, constant repetition is not always a good thing. "Love Drug" sees the tactic become rather too pedestrian while the quasi-industrial sound of "Joa" is rescued only by almost military drumming which carries the song by creating an aura of tension. "Fear of Darkness and "Brother Joliene" provide some impressive performances all round (including the most impressive vocal performances on the album) but that, almost inevitably brings me to something I mentioned a paragraph ago.
And so to that previously-mentioned odd-man out, as it were, in terms of instrumentation, and the one area of weakness on the album which is irretrievable and pulls down the potentially higher rating this might otherwise have achieved. In a word: Vocals. Brian Case seems to be having a real crisis with these. It is abundantly clear that he wants to emulate Ian Curtis, yet he lacks whatever it was that made Curtis Curtis. And there are far too many other Ian Curtis wannabees out there to make Case stand out. There are times, such as on "Joa", where a more expansive, volumised effect is required yet Case seems to hold back and allows the production to smother the vocals. Case's is a voice looking for an identity and he clearly hasn't found it yet. Until he does, Disappears are not going to be able to make that album which would stand as a classic and, potentially, the best post-punk album of the early 21st century.
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