BY JOHN SCHACHT
Louisville’s Old Baby sounds pretty much what you think it would sound given its pedigree of former Slint, Shipping News and Young Widows bandmembers: heavy, fractured, loud. But there’s some alchemical magic in the combination here that changes Old Baby into something else. Whether that change is all that compelling is another matter.
The eight-song LP opens with a real grinder, “Into the Earth,” whose insistent and vibrant riff seems to be digging toward middle earth and recalls Pontiak more than the band’s forebears. The track picks up steam throughout, weaving guitar lines into the mix until they crescendo in a fine long jam. It’s a promising start, but a deceptive one.
Too many other tracks rumble around in the sludge too long, while others never go anywhere at all. After the slow, fuzzy intro of “Tired,” a lumbering tempo emerges, jagged guitar bursts crossing its bow. The song feels like Grinderman Nick Cave on Quaaludes, though, and winds up taking its title to heart much to the listener’s bored regret.
Similarly, “Magic Wave” begins promisingly, with vibes-like keys pinging over a thumping bass and guitar feedback. But it takes over half the six-plus-minute track to ignite into something urgent enough to care all that much about. “Love Hungry” is meant to broil with lust, but the repetitive guitar line only leads to a fuck-pound rhythm and chorus, of sorts, featuring semi-orgasmic moans; “hot” is what it’s definitely not.
And that gets to the heart of this record’s problem – whether sludgy riffs and lumbering beats can convey the heat and passion of a love hunger or hangover. The jury says – not really.
DOWNLOAD: “Young” “Into the Earth” John Schacht