At Christmas I was working on a market stall selling t-shirts. One of the best sellers read, “I’ve no job, I’ve no car, I’ve no house but I am in a band”. I wonder if anyone bought one for members of Stuffy/The Fuses?
You see, Stuffy/The Fuses sound like the archetypical UK indie band. The kind of band that everyone’s younger brother is in. Slightly skeletal, obtuse, zany name, interesting song titles and utterly without merit.
The single Ahhh Song sounds like Art Brut without the art and the only brut it’s on speaking terms with is the terrible ’70s aftershave. It sounds cheap, flimsy, lacking in focus and any semblance of an original idea. It’s as if the members of Stuffy/The Fuses are desperate to be in a band but have no ideas to communicate, nothing to say and no interesting way of saying it.
I have no issue with music that lacks content as long as it sound glorious, visceral, angry, sad, broken, happy, or alive. Angels Are Ace sounds bored, indifferent, listless, barely there at all. The whole thing is so pointless. It’s a very long time since I have heard a CD quite as uniformly shockingly bad as this.
Stuffy/The Fuses often sounds like two different bands stuck hastily together with superglue by a blind man. Cluttered, lacking direction and inane. They have the angular guitars and complex rhythms but they seem to have forgotten the melodies or the guitar overload that would add some colour into the soggy grey audio porridge.
Meat Packer is a perfect example of this – it chugs along for the first two minutes not going anywhere but it sounds it maybe about to blossom into something. No suddenly the track shifts into a shrill coda that I guess the band intended to be shocking but just comes across ham-fisted and stupid.
The one idea the band have seems to be that of varying the speed of the rhythm tracks. Speeding them up and slowing them down within the same song. It sounds okay first time you hear it but wears thin very quickly. One idea rationed out across a whole LP shows an astounding lack of imagination.
The fact that Angels Are Ace was produced (sorry recorded by) the mercurial Steve Albini is even more shocking. The man who invented the sound of US underground with his work on classic albums by Pixies and Nirvana and his own trail blazing band Big Black has been reduced to making living producing records this tame.
Stuffy is the drummer and vocalist in the band and you can’t help but draw comparisons with the Foo Fighter‘s Dave Grohl. It’s not a comparison that does Stuffy any favours. Sure the drums have that crisp dry sound that Albini is a master at capturing but they sound so pedestrian. The choppy ‘stop start’ guitars of Spineless also ape the Foo’s template but Stuffy’s vocals are loaded with amateur dramatics inflections and incredibly annoying..
If Angels Are Ace proves one thing, it’s that Steve Albini is human. That no amounts of studio know how, of indie kudos can turn a terrible bad into a good or even an average one. Really life is too short for bothering with something as weak as this.