The Screeches
Skidmarks
~reviewed by Mick Mercer

And so, from Leeches to Screeches.

While most indie bands nowadays talk tough but look they wish to actually become their parents, it's nice when there are bands like this, who sound like they'll kill anyone for a hundred quid. A little less ferocious than last time in the way it grips overall, this sees Kate taking over on vocals, but she isn't strictly new, having worked with Andy before. However, she brings the same level of distinctive vocal strength to their sounds, where nobody mimsy would survive. Lizzi excelled in cheek and mischief, while Kate is laconic Black Widow.

As with The Leeches' 'Suck' album, brevity and punchy impact remains the order of the day, as most songs weigh in at just under three minutes, so the rough, bloated swagger of Alice is an epic at 4:38, the dementia of 'Fruitfly' at 1.21 is them at their briskest. Caught in their most normal state, if that's an appropriate turn, they have a clear, clean direction, with filthy introspection. They gleam in their manner, and the songs have an airy feel, without ever being downbeat. Arch rock'n'roll riffs uncurl behind equally delinquent vocals, but they jabber in a truly modern sense. 'Only Joking' has a crisp sound, but ashen features, with vocals commanding from the off. 'Rohypnol' has a murky tone, which is hardly surprising, and is typical of the songs here in that it's a wiry thing, covered in hi-octane, poisonous melodic gunk.

They can be lighter, as in 'Getaway', but finish raw and tingly, and while you might want 'Nothing' to go faster it actually goes up in flames in its own time, thank you. Two guitars to follow there, one having a friendly fit, and a lovely complete ending. Several things on this record I don't like, or I do, but there isn't enough of them. 'Waterbgun' is wet. They don't go fast enough at times, as though the vocal won't demean themselves, and the bass sound and presence in 'Misfit' gives such depth and balance, it would be nice to experience that elsewhere too.

Also, it is a mistake to call a song 'Crash' while sounding too close to The Primitives for comfort, but 'Do Gooder' is so pop it actually has a chorus (which is extravagant in such short songs), and sounds positively sweet. 'Back To The Wall' purrs, having the vocals given extra clarity to begin with, and maintains a healthy stealthy course, with some sharp guitar intrusions, before the psycho swansong, 'Tarantino' flits joyously by, hotly pursued by 'Under Your Skin', stuffed full of droll vocal snappiness and plenty of choppy guitar zest.

They don't actually screech, you understand. These songs wink at you, then run off when you least expect it. They stick to melodic rules, but bristle and jar as much as they can, without ruining themselves in the name of pointless excess. 'Dangling Man' is very odd (which is good), having a far plainer approach: more a jaunty walk than a stroll, with pointless backing vocals, so it's almost pleasant, which might not be the right intention, but to exhibit their contrasts, the album ends, in 'Fruitfly' with a total git of a song.

They're in your face, do everything with immediacy, and for readers in America they're in your neck of the woods soon! You're alone in the woods, and they have designs on your neck. Check their website for tour dates.

ONLY JOKING
ROHYPNOL
GETAWAY
LOVELY DAY
NOTHING
DO GOODER
CRASH
MISFIT
WATERGUN
BACK TO THE WALL
TARANTINO
UNDER YOUR SKIN
DANGLING MAN
ALICE
FRUITFLY

http://www.thescreeches.com

3/16/04