Slaves to scuzz. So says the Twitter biography of Brighton band Teardrop Factory and it’s 110% accurate. Back in 2013 they released the Topshop EP containing four songs packed full of tunes with enough fuzzy pop flavour to brighten anybody’s day. The EP was rough around the edges but accessible enough, certainly you could just about make out what they were saying. Over a year later and we have Thrash in the Heart, their debut album on the Faux Discx label and it couldn’t be scuzzier.
Listening to this album tells you that this is a band who have found their way to the basement of the lo-fi studio, pulled up the floorboards and dug down as deep as they can go. Actually, it’s been recorded in their bathroom. Think singing in the shower with some machinery dotted around. I find myself wondering if the singing was done in one bathroom while the microphone was placed in another? That sounds negative and perhaps it is a little, but only a little. What really matters are the songs and Teardrop Factory are not short of them.
Album opener ‘3AM Coke Dream’ lays the template for the whole album. Fuzz pedals are working overtime, the only way to stop the feedback is to actually hit some strings. While the guitar buzzes and smoulders the bass is emerging from the fog with a tune and the drums pound but with plenty cymbals crashing along. It’s a real cacophony but the song somehow doesn’t get lost and you realise these melodies might be with you for quite some time. The vocals make you strain your neck towards the speaker to try and make something out but it’s never going to happen. On this record the voice is used another instrument layering more and more distorted melodies over the music.
Over the 13 tracks presented here there’s more than a familiar nod to shoegaze with lots of hypnotic bass lines, chiming guitar and meandering melodies. There’s a lot of the Mary Chain guitar sound and Slowdive verses. There’s plenty of Pixies in there, particularly on ‘Circles’ and Sonic Youth pass by on ‘Spider Baby’. ‘Tastes Like Medicine’ has an anxious sounding guitar line that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nirvana b-side. My personal highlight is ‘Now We Shatter’ which rocks a little more than some of the other tracks, its excellent guitar hook and upbeat pace making it stand out.
It’s only when we get to final track ‘Fake Tan’ that the fuzz is downgraded slightly. The vocals are as distorted as ever but seems to be a little clearer in the mix and there’s a strong lead guitar element to the bridges of the song reminding me of the noisier parts of Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Bandwagonesque’.
‘Thrash in the Heart’ is an excellent debut record. I can’t escape the nagging suspicion and slight frustration that it could have sounded just a little better. If your TV had a picture equivalent of this album you’d be banging your fist on the side of it to try and clear it up. It’s as lo-fi as it gets which, to be fair to the band, is exactly what they were trying to achieve. It certainly works very well but where the Topshop EP fizzes, this record fuzzes. Slaves to scuzz indeed.
Thrash in the Heart was released 15th September 2015 via Faux Discx