Depending on your current metal state, you might take keen pleasure in a song title, “F**ked Up Erector Set.” Especially when it plays as if said erector said it being hurled and smashed; tiny screws and painted metal pieces sent flying in all directions. The song is the lead track on Recorded (out on Monday, Nov. 28) the most recent offering from local noise rockers Telecine, and it come straight out of the gate delivering all the punch and bombast that the band has always promised. Guitars churn and wail through reverb, reedy vocals are almost buried under layers of fuzz and snarl, drums (played by Jon McDuffie) throttle through the melee. There’s a moment, about 2 1/2 minutes in, when the fog clears and a single guitar leads a charge — but that charge heads straight back into the thrash. As well it should.
If “Sleppy Pills” starts slower, an emotive shuffle, at the 30 second mark it, too begins to kick and howl. There’s a background atmospheric that sounds like a siren; a chilling high note slicing through the distance. Here, voices are closer to the mic. “For the the holding crown, I will lay it down,” Andrew Larson sings. The vocalist also plays guitars and keys; the band includes Steven Teague on bass and Lauren Brown on guitar.
This is a band built around guitars and all of the crunchy, twitchy, shrieking and plaintiff notes that can be wrung from them. Songs are less about melodies and more about textures. “Your World Is Dying” quilts tones together. Sometimes there’s a fuzzy, cottony batten; other times the song is needled with sharp angles and industrial screech.
Interestingly, the vocal is never harsh, never a scream. Even at the energetic crux of the bracing, “Everyone’s Dying,” the refrain, “Why can’t there ever not be a first time, why can’t there ever not be a last?” is delivered with a kind of tranquil acceptance. It’s a thoughtful choice and adds another dynamic to the song. And when the music drops back to a hushed moment of soft vocals and restrained instrumentation, it feels just as intense as the full, metal-tinged onslaught.
“Broken Lights Never Get Fixed” is another crush of guitars; cymbals flashing like flares into a dark sky. “Feeling owned, feeling stoned, feeling old and gray,” Larson sings into a wedge of quiet, his voice plaintiff. Then the intensity picks back up, all rumble and grinding gears, before falling away again for a sweet and haunting vocalization.
The architecture of hard and (rare) soft keeps the album interesting and, though it’s meant to be heard loud, the wall of sound and shove of electricity is still felt at lower volumes. The shimmying squeals and weighty churn of “Skin Deep You’re Always Ugly” are heavy but controlled. There’s a melancholy elegance to the track — it snarls, but a tender heart beats at its core.
The album’s longest track, the nine-minute “Watered Reasons for Curing Anything,” takes its time to build from delicate intro chords and resonant atmospherics. Telecine plays nice for a meditative two minutes, but the deluge of noise and beat is expected and welcome. And even then, those moments of utter abandon, of excess and sluice, give way again and again to the quiet and slow, the contemplative and careful. The play of dynamics feels expansive and examined. It’s a rock song, yes, but it’s also art. It’s an embrace of all of the sounds — not just the pretty ones.