Album Reviews

Illness – Some Vegetable Waste

(Emilio's) UK release date: 21 February 2011

Brighton’s Illness are a two-piece guitar and drums combo and play with all the catchings of that format; noise, stop-start-stops, sweet riffs. There’s no vocalist though, so no Southern rock anthemics. This is more Lightning Bolt! with a dash of Thin Lizzy.

Which makes it in essence a great half-hour blast of power guitar. Using limitations as weapons they manage to evoke much from little. In You The User the history of American slacker punk screams through, from the guitar slides to the crunchy riffs. The frantic power of The Descendants holds hands firmly with graceful playing of American Football. Nerds and chin stroking bearded types find a happy place as nasty chords are thrashed out with abandon.

There’s also powerful diversity to the music as well, for this isn’t just fuzz and bluster; it’s rather a joyfully loud party trick on repeat. Whilst Illness have inevitably cut their teeth on basement shows in crappy venues, the playing here transcends that scene. Admittedly this album has short, punchy songs but they have complex structure and constant movement. Water Damage soars through waves of warm fuzz into soft pealing lines that droop with that same sad touch Thurston Moore can so easily throw into a full-on Sonic Youth guitar barrage. As the following track Sorbet rebuilds into a rock steady tempo littered with Pavement-like riffs, styles morph into each other with grace.

It is best when it is loud. Illness can give a chord descension the spectacle of a Gershwin motif, so why not turn it up and turn it into a series of riffs more suitable for driving trucks to? There’s a carelessness matched with an ability to actually pull the stunts off which deserves praise. Giant Sized closes the album and locks like a stuck record, before one note sends the whole foundation crumbling into funk rhythms and deft guitar gymnastics.

Some Vegetable Waste won’t be to everyone’s taste, and the band are probably best witnessed live, but this album is a blunt, powerful and honest recording of a garage band conducting themselves with the finesse and discipline of a chamber quartet. The album has none of the sheen of today’s big rock bands but it more than punches above its weight with bombastic playing and invention, a fine band bringing new nuances and sophistication to the inherently rebellious power-duo format.

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Illness – Some Vegetable Waste