By Sam Tornow, Editorial Director
[In The Red; 2017]
Key Tracks: “Alice”, “Touchless”
Alice is a highly flawed album. At face value, the artwork mimics the worst kind of V A P O R W A V E A E S T H E T I C, the album title is one that has been recycled millions of times, and the sound is a shaky laundromat filled with paisley clothing. Meatbodies is not aiming to please. For 43 minutes, they keep barely missing the bullseye, purposefully.
Meatbodies’ second release follows their 2014 self-titled debut. The distinction between the two is few. Fuzz oozes out every bass pluck and barbie glitter litters the floor after falling off of the guitar. Alice is constantly fighting itself; the high tuned drums can’t quite find their place under the distortion; elements of glam rock shine bright but are buried fast under lead singer, Chad Ubovich’s rail thin voice. And all of it is trying not to drown under the numerous, humorously long guitar solos. It feels like gravity is barely strong enough to keep it all together, but it does.
In the lead up to Alice’s release, Meatbodies toured excessively, writing along the way, and it shows. These mix-matched tracks burn fast, scorching the dandelion fields behind them. Only because of this is Meatbodies able to get away with their messy music. Everything just clumsily falls onto itself, resulting in a strange flow the listener can’t bob their head to.
The title track, “Alice”, is a sweetly packaged summary for the album. Erie imagery hops around over instrumentation that ceaselessly beats on like a parade, getting more contorted along the way. A quarter of the way through, with no prior or aforementioned explanation, a keyboard with pneumonia shows up and takes a short solo. All of this builds up to, of course, a two-minute guitar solo, a clear influence from Ubovich’s long time friend, tourmate, and bandmate, Ty Segall. B-side “Touchless” is another example of this, a song with more guitar featuring than not.
However, this delicate formula Meatbodies implements has its downfalls. “Haunted History” sounds like someone doing an impression of a 7th-grade guitar player who is also trying to do an impression of a metal band. The album’s intro, “The Burning Fields”, is nothing more than a time killer. And the closer, “Fools Fold Their Hands (Grievous Evils Under the Sun)”, feels like a forced attempt at theatrics, ending the album on a cliche, albeit fitting, note: scattered applause.