- While Free Blood's first 12-inch would seem to have all the marks of a solid subcultural pedigree, it remains debatable whether its street cred can translate into durable product. All the proper elements of a hype-worthy indie dance act seem to check out: the Brooklyn duo is an offshoot of dance-punk outfit !!! , and it's offering this first of two 12-inches on a dual Rong/DFA imprint as prelude to a fall full-length. In addition, you've got a vaguely aggressive-sounding band name, a genre diss for a song title, lyrics about substance abuse, and the disaffected yowl that singer John Pugh fine-tuned in his time with !!!.
The A-side "Never Hear Surf Music Again" is inspired, noisy and schizo-dissociative NY dance-rock whose compositional strategy consists of bottling the spastic twitch of funky no wave just tight enough to get a groove going, while simultaneously allowing for plenty of frenetic bursts and swerves throughout. The song structure is a bit like "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," being a series of catchy melodic digressions in place of ABAB bookends. After male-female vocals cajole your chemical ingestion, the female end pipes up with "I'm hiiiigghhh…" then dissolves into a dizzying, tripped-out dub disco churn with a swarm of looped vocals and bleating violin harmonics. It's easily the track's highlight. Too bad, then, that the group seems far more interested in this indie what-the-fuckery than they are in exploring something worthy in detail.
The final result is something like !!! with ADD: a devoted outsider's approach to dance music, ultimately more suitable for headphones or the concrete caverns of a Brooklyn warehouse party than a heated dancefloor. Rong producer Barfly does a decent job of trying to corral Free Blood's free-range funk and get it ship-shape for club night on the flip, but the remix doesn't seem to be a helluva lot more than a longer rearrangement with some dubby decorations, while A2 "Quick and Painful" is more of what you might expect from Free Blood's opening salvo: abrasiveness flanked with sharp and sinewy guitars—angular, dense and clamorous garage funk with bored/sexy singing, in short.
A1 Never Hear Surf Music Again
A2 Quick And Painful
B1 Never Hear Surf Music Again (Barfly Remix)