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These Things Can't Hurt You Now

So Throw Them In The Fire
(Something To Listen To)

Here we have the debut album from the recently (and, perhaps, sensibly) re-named Living With Eating Disorders. The band's new name - equal parts brevity and mystery - has a certain terse purposefulness to it, while not giving anyone the opportunity to make funny remarks. Probably a wise move to make the change, then, but what of the music? Has that changed, too?

Well, yes and no. That feeling of bleak, after-the-ball-is-over glamour is still present and correct. That sense that we're teetering on the cusp of nighmares is still very much the foundation of the Colt sound. But there's also a sense that the band has come of age. This album is as much about vision and control as it is about shining a baleful light into the darker corners of the human psyche. Colt have refined their concept and their sound to the point where this album is full of confidence and no-safety-net nerve, just as much as it's about freaking out in yer ear.

Colt have the knack of creating spiky sonic disturbances in the ether, without necessarily going for the obvious punkerama thrash. Indeed, much of the music here is deceptively low-key: subtle barbs rather than full-on artillery assaults, effect-laden soundscapes shifting like desert sand. This, of course, makes the sudden onslaughts of rampant guitars and clattering drums all the more effective when they do unexpectedly burst forth. And, believe me, they do, usually when you least expect it. Beware the ballads - Colt are quite capable of transforming the quietest and most subtle song into a sudden explosion of avant-rock racketeering.

Let's pick out a few tunes. We are eased in to the album by 'Never Know', a trip-hoppy croon with a bleak blue heart, and if it owes a little too much to a mid-90s Portishead influence, such niggles are banished by 'I Abort', a trompe d'oreille ballad-cum-anthem on which vocalist Andrea Kerr delivers such lines as '...your razor blades/breaking in my mouth' in such a disconcertingly matter-of-fact manner that you can almost see the glint of the steel among her teeth. We change up a gear with 'Demon In The Wheels', Colt's horror-road-movie of a song, and one of their most drastic one-extreme-to-another rampages. As Andrea rasps and screams over a hurtling guitar riff, you'll be franically stabbing at an imaginary brake pedal as you sit in your armchair at home, I guarantee it.

'I Talk To God' has a lovely phat keyboard burble pulling it along like warm mud flowing over cold ground, a guitar riff like a sudden jet of hot water, and one of Andrea's most uncomfortable lyrics: 'I talk to God when you think I'm just harming myself'. 'Body Bag' has the disconcerting effect sounding like Andrea's right there in the room with you - the vocal is pushed upfront, mixed to have lots of presence, while the band play it cool and flowing in the background.

If 'Dark Nevada' were a movie, it would be a spaghetti western directed by Peter Greenaway, surreal and discomforting. 'Envy' goes from a whisper to a distorted scream, the drums picking up the song and running with it, then turning at bay as the whole thing breaks down into a bass throb as Andrea half-whispers 'Speak to me of thirst/And speak to me of greed...'. And then, at last, comes Colt's glam-noir anthem, 'Death And Sequins', on which the band break into a loping stride, the drums kicking it all along, Andrea, a half-amused observer, interjecting whimsical observations all the while. At the very end, the guitars slip the leash for a final cacophony, and then it all fades to a hot-valve hum. The final switch-off comes as one last surprise.

For all its warmly accessible production and at times almost jazzy ballads, this is not an easy listening album. The lyrical preoccupations are disturbing, the vocal delivery unsettlingly intimate. And then, of course, the music takes all kinds of twists and turns, from an oil-on-water shimmer to jagged-edged, snarling noise. But this is exactly what makes it worth the price of admission. Colt are quite unlike any other band around, and this album is a fine introduction to their oddly off-kilter world. Enter by all means, but tread carefully.


Essential Links:

Colt: Website | Fan site | MySpace

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  Page credits: Review and construction by Uncle Nemesis.
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