CD Review: The SSRIs “Effeminate Godzilla-Sized Wind Chimes”

The SSRIs’s often spastic songs mimic manic-depressive tendencies. Highs and lows – a chaotic muddle of emotions, from anger and excitement to lucid periods of sentimentality. In an instant they go from panic attack to a popped anti-anxiolytic and back, and back again, bringing to mind the notion that “mental” is half of the word “sentimental.” If you are seeking some new urgently heavy, but far from straight-forward music, this is the release to check out.

Genre-wise, the SSRIs refuse to fit into any simple category. They now refer to their music as noise-pop; elements of both melody and noise are crucial to their sound. I see it as collage-y, wired post-punk. Stretches of freak-outs followed by chill-outs. It reminds me at times of Die! Die! Die! and the way they play with time signatures is reminiscent of math rockers North of America and Q And Not U. Other listeners have compared the SSRIs to Fugazi, Micachu and the Shapes, Blood Brothers, Health, Liars and the Cardiacs.

I think the most notable point to consider about the SSRIs is the collage nature of the songs. Ideal for this day of short attention spans, this Vancouver band manages to spew forth and motor through multiple sounds (almost songs themselves) within songs, somewhat akin to how Of Montreal have taken to structuring their (albeit much softer and less diverse) songs. The music of the SSRIs is unpredictable, often loud and yet surprising the listener with the gentle sounds they tend to end their songs with. Each song is a story onto itself, told equally well musically and in terms of lyrics, which are odd and clever.

The first song, “Certain-set Configuration,” is a fantastic force of full sound that builds and wanes –  a strategy employed in the past by ’90s alt-rockers like The Smashing Pumpkins. The beginning of the track reminds me of early Muse; piano over crunchy guitars. Then melodic, racing vocals. The song ends with magical synths akin to the Rentals. “Making Sense” features a guitar riff that is very North of America. There is an otherworldly effect resultant from quivering vocals and guitars, while the atmospheric keys ring like bells (a la “Let Down” by Radiohead).”Clay-Faced Meat Boots” is romantic briefly, until hell breaks loose and a chaotic decline into a spiraling solo and accumulation of heavy elements before the vocals come in at a frenetic pace. This song is truly a ‘noise’ track, but interspersed with impressively cogent, tender moments paired with peculiar lyrics: “Chimps eat each other, yeah chimps eat each other.” The song travels out with a fairytale feel, a swirl of nostalgic keys.

“Rows” sounds like a spiral into madness with maze-like keys, bass and a guitar that’s lost its way, much like the erratic vocals. The outro, yet again, is my favorite part of the song; this is where I really hear Q And Not U’s first album and what I love is that the music is heavy, but also danceable. “Invisible Handjobs (Flavors)” has a great punk energy infused with lazer-like synths. The catchy riffs are maybe the only moments of ‘pop’ I hear on the album. “Ayn Rand” is a gorgeous, electric ballad with vocals that sound like Echo and the Bunnymen of the future. An organ that sounds like it’s in outer space crackles in and out. Though slower and more ‘simple’ than the other songs on the album, it is by no means boring.

While moments of the SSRIs are comparable to other post-hardcore and alternative artists, the complex nature of the songs and the melodic vocals, which are just as pleasant when screaming as when singing, results in  a sound like no other. I commend the SSRIS for making risky, unique music that rocks and soothes at the same time.

The only point they lose here is for the fact that, on account of the multitude of bursting sounds on this album, I’m not always in the mood to listen to it.

Score: 9/10

Check out the SSRIs here: http://www.myspace.com/thessris