One wouldn’t need to be particularly astute to pick up on Disappears’ fondness for NEU!, from the ’75-copping album cover for last year’s Lux to the motorik march impelling a fair share of the Chicago outfit’s material. Kicking their records into the gear of the 21st century are fuzzy strata swarming the interstices between Brian Case’s vocals and Damon Carruesco’s bass, bundling the forces at work into a scabrous sphere of unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll.
At their best, these tracks scream down desolate highways, toppling the hurdles and haunts which dare offer a veil of resistance. ‘Halo’ and ‘Guider’ bully a path through the murk, knotty guitars, post-punk-ish yawps, and propulsive drums converging in a cryptic, maximal brume gaining in potency as the ride persists — the band’s resolve strengthens in accordance with the mileage it racks up.
The vigor dies down on ‘Not Romantic’ as well as ‘New Fast,’ exposing Disappears’ gawky posture when pressure on the gas pedal wanes. The former never quite radiates the frenetic pulse of Guider‘s finer cuts, wrapped in a tidier, thinner haze whereas the latter tries its luck with a groove-oriented affair, low-pitch mutters and electric gyres diminishing the ambit of Carruesco’s browbeaten bass lines.
15-minute closer ‘Revisiting’ surely must be mentioned too, as it occupies half of the album’s runtime and, due to its colossal presence, reveals both the triumphs and foibles of this sophomore effort. The skeleton here is a gripping kraut-drenched romp, buzzsaw guitars and portentous percussion pairing to trace a fantastically convoluted maze of rhythm and reverberation. Foggy and hardy all at once, it encapsulates the ideal Disappears track. That is, until the vocoder on downers is ptyalized into the mix. Where vocals on NEU! records would enhance the work by slipping, sliding, and settling into the pocket, their urgency adding to the heft of the storm, Case’s mussitating lightens the trek by deflecting our gaze.
This minor slip-up proves symptomatic of a broader attitude governing the Disappears songbook, tacking oafish droning vocals atop perfectly decent compositions or scaling back the power for a plod. They continually opt for one superfluous step, tottering beyond the ease of their natural morass.
Rating: 5.9 / 10