Melkbelly - PITH Music Album Reviews

The Chicago band’s second album strikes a balance between the spartan chaos of noise rock and the soft melodicism of bedroom pop.

Melkbelly—the project of married couple Miranda and Bart Waters, plus Bart’s brother Liam on bass and non-relative James Wetzel on drums—is a noise rock band on its surface, but a pop act at heart. Miranda and Bart met through the Chicago DIY scene, eventually forming Coffin Ships, a pop-oriented group that showcased Miranda’s sweet but firm delivery. Meanwhile, Wetzel took inspiration from Providence noise weirdos like Daughters and Lightning Bolt—his own project Ree-Yees suggests a truckload of drums swerving through traffic. On PITH, their second full-length, Melkbelly strike a robust and surprisingly warm balance between the spartan chaos of noise rock and the soft melodicism of bedroom pop.

Melkbelly songs don’t so much expand the boundaries of these genres as shift between them. On “THC,” revving guitars and spoken-word vocals give way to circuitous chord progressions and honeyed sighs. It’s tempting to reduce these patterns to the “loud-quiet” dynamics that make grunge forebears like the Breeders so exhilarating. But where the Deal sisters delineate their modes with dramatic pauses and thick reverb, Melkbelly’s transitions are more freewheeling. When the guitars slow from a blitz to a meander, Miranda’s deadpan rasp fills the vacant space. By the time “THC” reaches the closest thing to a chorus, the band has traversed three time signatures. Miranda’s voice meets the challenge, sounding enraged and disaffected at once as her voice rises and falls to keep pace with the dense instrumentation.

As they did on 2017’s Nothing Valley, Melkbelly set up daring rhythmic changes and layers of sludge—massive, overdriven guitars, sudden shifts in tempo—that find improbable reconciliation in driving counter-melodies. It can feel like the band is battling itself, goading one instrument (the drums on “Mr. Coda,” or the rhythm guitar on “Take H20”) to take the reigns. At the climax of “LCR,” Miranda’s vocals and Wetzel’s manic drumming both rise to a crescendo, wordless screams and razor-sharp snares each gaining power from the other, like two converging storms. But unlike Nothing Valley, which often came dangerously close to derailing, PITH reigns in its song structure, replacing the previous record’s instrumental drum tracks with tightly wound melodies. The overdriven guitars and reverberating vocals of “Season of the Goose” would sound at home beside post-punk revivalists like Interpol or the Strokes.

Melkbelly expends so much energy ripping through verses, it can be easy to miss one of the band’s strongest assets: Miranda’s absurd and graphic lyrics, which address body horror and petty indie rock spats with equal ferocity. It’s her careful, almost precious delivery that keeps these topics—like food stuck between teeth and omelettes wedged under fingernails—from conjuring sheer disgust. On “Little Bug,” she sings the biography of an insect with the proudly precocious energy of an only child performing to an audience of dolls.

When Melkbelly take aim at human pests, they’re less effective. “Kissing Under Some Bats” scolds a scene-going groupie: “Stop introducing yourself as ‘just a girlfriend’/Because it’s twee/And unnecessary.” From a band whose lyrics are typically so removed from reality, it comes across as cruel and bizarrely personal. “Humid Heart” similarly frays at its seams, the vocal breaking as the song stutters to a halt on what is ostensibly a chorus. On an album shrouded in such graphic and fantastical imagery, the lackluster moments stand out.

But PITH always manages to regain traction. At its best, Miranda’s voice recalls the cutting dryness of fellow Chicagoan Liz Phair, sharing a wry intonation that lifts even the densest basslines to climactic peaks. When her performance matches the surrounding velocity, as on the pummeling “Stone Your Friends,” the militant intensity and drive resembles “Immigrant Song.” As an album, PITH begins to drag towards the end, closing with a track rightfully called “Flatness.” But as a series of singles, its meld of ’90s grunge and early-’00s noise is delightfully strange.


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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Melkbelly - PITH Music Album Reviews Melkbelly - PITH Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, April 10, 2020 Rating: 5

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