Midwestern artpunks splatter fragile melodies with stuttering no-wave beats,
interrupt herky-jerk dialogues between drum and bass with monotone free word
association, skitter between early Karen O pyrotechnics and delicate
Deerhoof-ish mayhem. And then, just as you think you’ve got a handle on them,
they slip in a torch song. Cohesive? No. Intriguing? You bet.
(pronounced “double-you double-vee double-double-you zee” and not “you’ve
whizzed” as we at first guessed) comes from Nebraska, but their sensibility is anything
but heartland. The band’s faux naïve melodies – carried by singer Teal Gardner
– are chopped to bits by anarchic rhythms, exploded into gutty blues growls,
firebombed by Jim Schroeder’s staccato, off-riffing guitar. A hint of
vulnerability drops in sometimes, as Gardner’s
voice flutters like a bird in a cage built of Tom Ambroz’s drums criss-crossed
with Dustin Wilbourn’s skewed funking bass, but it is never long before she
breaks out in screech or wail or vibrato-laced bleat.
album’s two best songs will both strongly remind you of other bands. “Shark
Suit” has the controlled chaos of vintage Yeah Yeah Yeahs, its beat metronome
steady, but rickety, a blurt of bass eliciting a burst of drum filling, a
guitar stabbing in at random intervals. Gardner
sounds particularly Karen O-ish on this one, alternating between sing-song-y
come ons to punchy three-timed shout-outs, that will remind of you the days
when the YYYs frontwoman was a “dan-ger to her-self.” “Jap Dad,” by contrast,
is all Deerhoof-y angularity and abstraction, its guitar riff a choked off
robot flourish, its bass and drums strident and boxy, and Gardner trilling nonsense syllables
(di-di-di-di-di-ah!) and leaping blind over odd-sized intervals.
a couple of slow songs as well, the surprising “Neolaño” which with its soft
melody, its pretty singing, is very restrained arrangements cuts very close to
a piano bar ballad. Later, “The Sun Song” is more of the same, though it breaks
out of the quietude a little sooner and more definitively. But really, the
intensity and energy is all in the fast tracks, which hop like amped up rabbits
over mine fields and, occasionally, explode. UUVVWWZ doesn’t seem to have quite
settled on their sound, and they haven’t entirely gotten past their influences,
but the debut is lots of fun, all the same.
“Shark Suit”, “Jap Dad” JENNIFER KELLY