Now that Mclusky have finally been laid to rest a few months ago with the fantastic retrospective Mcluskyism, we can finally begin to appreciate Jon Chapple’s current project Shooting At Unarmed Men. Yes! Tinnitus! follows a mere six months after S.A.U.M. last album Soon There Will Be… so it might well be expected that material is going to be stretched thin, and that quality is likely to drop quite considerably.
This is far from the case however, as in fact S.A.U.M. have improved dramatically. It’s possible that Soon There Will Be… might have been something of a disappointment because it had a Mclusky sized gap to fill. In retrospect, this is certainly a consideration – but where that particular album certainly packs a hefty if slightly off target punch, Yes! Tinnitus! is right on the money.
For a start the production is much tidier, and this gives the songs a tighter, more muscular sound. Where the difference is felt though is in the song writing. These are far darker, far more expansive songs. Where once there was short sharp thrashes of punk there are now brooding sections of guitar that sound as if they’ve been imported directly from the Big Black school of metallic menace. Opening track Pathos ate Bathos is only ever punctuated occasionally by vocal interjections from Chapple and co-vocalist Steve Morgan, allowing the guitar to set the tone to evil from the off.
Although the opening track is sparse in lyrical content, Chapple’s cynicism and oblique references still make their way to the fore as the album progresses. There’s the punk-western pomp of All Hail Sergio, which as well as referencing Clint Eastwood, possesses some wonderfully tight guitars straight from a Western as scored by Fugazi.
Girls Music seems to be something of a diatribe against some of the negative reviews that S.A.U.M. garnered with their last release. “Your word means absolutely nothing…I hope you like listening to music made for girls” hoots Chapple – although quite what “Your vagrants smell like tin” means is anyone’s guess.
There shouldn’t be a need for a song in a similar vein on the next album however, because Yes! Tinnitus! shows a band developing in sound and confidence. It owes a lot to the sound of the Pixies and the DC hardcore scene certainly, but every song here is a massive step forward.
Apparently Chapple has left the band on hiatus for two years whilst he heads off to Australia, which is a great pity, because these songs will sound fantastic live. Not only that, but the rate at which the band has been developing suggested that they were capable of a really great record. For now though, Yes! Tinnitus! is a good record that should go some way to helping you to achieve a pleasing ringing in the ears.