Sunday, February 21, 2016

REVIEW: Eraser Stargazer by Guerilla Toss

What if David Byrne had been obsessively listening to The Contortions while writing Remain in Light? On Eraser Stargazer, Guerilla Toss try to answer that question. To some, no-wave and dance-punk might not seem like things that should be mixed, but their tendencies towards irregular time signatures and grooves make them an interesting match. Guerilla Toss definitely succeed in combining the styles, but the question is that combination any good? For the most part, that answer is yes, but sometimes there are moments of identity crisis where the band can't decide between the two genres and the result is unfocused and muddy.

The album is precariously balanced between grating and groovy and it’s honestly sometimes hard to tell which is being achieved at any given moment. “Multibeast TV” avoids this dichotomy by sounding like a Death Grips track through a booming and slick bass, but they quickly abandon this sound for the rest of the album. The next track “Diamond Girls” was chosen as the single and for good reason; it is one of the most accessible songs on the album with a fantastic groove. “Grass Shack” shows off some of the less likeable aspects of this album with a bizarre synth that sounds like it’s from a forgotten Gamecube game. This track is also just too long for it’s own good, clocking in at almost seven minutes. Luckily, all of the other tracks are two minutes shorter than “Grass Shack” and they’re better for it. All of the tracks after the somewhat repetitive and underwhelming “Color Picture” are a return to form for the band. The intro to the song “Perfume” is much more restrained than the rest of the album and it makes  it much easier to appreciate the crazy parts more. The spoken word vocals on “Doll Face On The Calico Highway” don’t really work, but they are quickly forgotten under the beautiful barrage of other sounds.

Eraser Stargazer’s album cover is very emblematic of the sound; it is colorful, weird, twisted, funny in an odd sort of way, and kind of gross. The band has some very good ideas up it’s sleeve, but they sometimes get lost in just how much is going on during each song. If Guerilla Toss were to consolidate and focus their sound just a bit more, they could explore these chaotic soundscapes with much more grace and ease, but in the meantime, they’re a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.


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