Forming over 15 years ago while barely into high school, Californian rockers Audacity have been tearing up basement parties and disturbing the neighborhood peace from the grungy sanctum of their garages ever since. Churning out three albums and countless EPs of their pop-infused garage noise over the last decade, it’s seems to be almost time for the pundits to postulate about “the album where the band mature”. There’s little indication the group are worried about anything but keeping the pedal firmly to the metal and the fuzz cranked up to obliterate on this release, however.
A frenzied crescendo of guitar and drum noise serves as a blistering statement of intent from the get-go, leading into the album opener ‘Counting the Days’, an edgy love song buried under gnarly layers of sneering punk-rock vitriol. Fellow West Coast garage-rock wonder-kid Ty Segall cleans the production up from behind the mixing desk, but the snotty adolescent vocal delivery and full-throttle power pop grit of their previous releases remains.
The rip-roaring style is rarely at the expense of melody or structure though. Tracks like ‘Awake’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Previous Cast’ prove vocalists Matt Schmalfeld and Kyle Gibson can hold a note when they want to, as well as producing impressive throaty yowls. The group also proves to be a tight unit. The hyperactive riffing of ‘Baseball’, a critique of pervasive sports broadcasting as an unhealthy diversion (“The World’s on fire and you’re waiting for the umpire”), is particularly taut and tidy.
Other highlights include the spasmodic guitar licks of ‘Hypo’, recalling Nashville two-piece Jeff the Brotherhood circa their ‘We are the Champions’ album, while the flanged vocal and deadpan drawl of ‘Umbrella’ recalls Mississippi rockers Bass Drum of Death at their most endearingly apathetic. The chugging stomp and screeching feedback of album closer ‘Lock on Your Door’ may be the record’s greatest triumph though, testament both to Segall’s expert handling of distortion to an ecstatic fever pitch, and the band honing the art of snappy power-punk hooks to a fine art.
An occasional lack of invention gives the album an unfortunate drag factor at certain moments, despite its raucous urgency. Overall, though, these tunes will be sure to transform any self-respecting moshing ground into a state of bloodied euphoria.
‘Hyper Vessels’ is out now via Suicide Squeeze Records
This Audacity article was written by Tadgh Shiels, a GIGsoup contributor