Hailed by scenesters for their musical fearlessness, Bordeaux -born, Berlin-bred outfit Paris Suit Yourself certainly talk the talk. Their abrasiveness, at least, is reflected in the title of their debut album. They’ve spoken in interviews about allowing their live audiences to rediscover animalism and the elegance of violence. But enough chat. Does the record live up to the hype? Sadly, while there are wisps of potential, its largely unlistenable nature means My Main Shitstain does exactly what it says on the tin.
And how. The Intro sounds like the band have thrown everything they liked as children into a blender. Cymbal-smashing underpins what can only be described as a disjointed meeting of Hakuna Matata and cheap lounge music.
It’s one thing being unconventional, but the real groundbreakers differ from the pack in ways other than simply not sounding coherent. Take the rapidly-vibrating opening of Surprise. It has promise, but as soon as the sound of retching comes into focus, it loses any listenability. It’s difficult to see what kind of artistic point is being made by Luvinsky Atche’s schizophrenic stream of consciousness, save a desire to make the listener feel nauseous. Meanwhile, on Yesterday’ll Make You Cry, Marie Boye’s backing vocals mope mournfully through a foot-dragging lope, while Atche bawls and shrieks violently over the top. He’s certainly unashamed, unafraid to lay bare his emotions in all their rawness. There’s no questioning his commitment there. The problem is that it sounds like an unsalvageable mess.
Worse than the unlistenable are the tracks which are just plain boring. Craig Machinsky sets the tone here. Its drums and rhythm fall over themselves in an over-elongated introduction, and the lyrics are uninspired to say the least. “Imma shooting myself in the head” and “suck on my dick” are hardly artistic harpoons into the dark recesses of the psyche. Instead, they smack of someone who thinks they’ve got something to say, only to find they really just want to prove they’ve got the balls to be vulgar behind a microphone. The same old bass line gets really tired, and the lack of melodic variety drowns any glimmer of hope. The nice changes of tempo on Rolling On and the enticing call-and-response of Sometimes threaten to break into something exciting. Sadly, we’re left disappointed.
Then there’s the downright inexplicable. Lost My Girl is as unhinged as The Victorian English Gentleman’s Club without any of their musical energy. Aptly-named drummer Joe Bombastik inexplicably whapping out a different time signature and trying to turn this car crash into a scene from Sister Act certainly makes the last minute of the track fun, but did nothing to excuse what came before.
Yet the band clearly has talent. John’s Angels is a short ‘atmospheric’ number, whose swelling chords push slightly out of synch with the repetitive, almost mantra-like refrain. The fact that this refrain is “I’m fucking broke and I can’t see” perhaps detracts from the romance, but is the closest they come to realising that ‘elegant violence’ pipe dream. The manic French monologue of Brainwashed lolls over a zombie-like chorus with all the zeal of a Bible Belt preacher. If this was at all intentional, it’s genius. Father shuffles along nicely, wrapped in alluring strings and vocally successful for a change. Atche’s emotional and expressive range is displayed without exaggerating it to the point of ridiculousness, the African roots brought out effectively in the rhythms and lyrical structure.
My Main Shitstain might contain the odd flash of musical potential, and is certainly not to be sneered at with the kind of disdain reserved for vapid identikit pop. The problem is that the talent of the band hasn’t been honed productively. There are too many unlistenable experiments left in, too much bland monotony. What little goodness remains simply isn’t worth the effort.