In This Perfect Hell (Groovie/Dirty Water)
For the uninitiated The Routes are an Anglo-Nipponese garage trio, and that’s not something you get to announce very often. This fifth album was written, recorded, mixed and played on (except the drums) by the Anglo bit of the band, Christopher Jack. I mention that because this is pretty close to a solo record of Jack’s, and thus a slightly different beast from before. The R&B swing you usually get from them band has a different tone this time: often replaced by the type of sinister, very stoned, heavy reverb Fuzzinations that John Dwyer has been traversing with Thee Oh Sees in recent times. If you’ve heard the last album Skeletons then time to readjust your sonic earphones, as we’re not in the same prefecture anymore, Tonty...
This is Modern Garage, where the fuzz sound remains key, but many of the authenticity hang-ups of the sixties garage scene are put away in the closest with the Chelsea Boots. As long as you don’t throw out the Trash with the bathwater, this is absolutely fine. And luckily for us listeners Jack doesn’t. He has a particular way with his guitar sound and vocal delivery to have already stamped a trademark on his sound, so it’s not an alien departure at all. But now you can positively taste the thickness of the trip, as slabs of echoing buzzsaw guitar puncture the ears from every direction.
Opener 'Thousand Forgotten Dreams' trails the sludge love of a thousand stoner rock bands with a penchant for Jesus and Mary Chain (aka “pop”) as well as yer usual Sabbath. 'Something Slipped Through My Window' is a glam-beated one-directional onslaught; Marc Bolan on a comedown, if you like. “Peeling Face” is great uptempo bubblegum garage: cheap Ace Tone organ bubbling away whilst Jack has a full-on meltdown. Even pacier is ‘No Permanance’, which maintains a winning - relentless, even - motorik groove’n’drone combination [Can influences are always going to win you bonus points at Tender Prey]. This theme is explored again on ‘Oblivious’ to great, if ever-so-slightly intimidating, effect.
'Worry' is all minor-key doom, with a simple up’n’down blues riff that’s Primitive Central, aided and abetted by a cracking shouty chorus. Put it on the latest Back From The Grave and it fits perfectly. 'Make You Hate Me More' similarly delivers. Turns out they still do authentic sixties, then. The lyrics are still the tongue-in-cheek “watch out, I’m a charming shithead” style, and when you do a catch an intelligible line through the murk it invariably induces a grin.
It you can stomach the heavy, tinny, reverberating production values that renders the album distinctly monotone then you’ll be In Perfect Fuzz Heaven with In This Perfect Hell. Acid Punk, baby, is still where it’s at.
In This Perfect Hell is out on vinyl via Groovie Records and download via Dirty Water mid-March
BY PHIL ISTINE
A blog to pontificate upon music both new and old: mostly reviews, some news, interviews, thought pieces, and exclusive content.