Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dearly Missed Partycrasher

Partycrasher should be called Dearly Missed Houseguest. I understand why Partycrasher isn't titled that way, but at least in my home it is welcome like a friend I haven't seen in six years. Some perspective is useful: Their previous full length Career Suicide had an anti-Romney song ("Pardon Me, Thanks A Lot") whilst he was still best known as a Massachusetts politician. That's how long it's been.

Any outlet worth their salt is going to talk about how Partycrasher is two things: It is fast and it is
technical, and given how thoroughly saturated Career Suicide was with those two things, Partycrasher is worth marveling over. Those outlets are right.  What they're unlikely to mention, however, is melody. Syrupy melody, everywhere. At some points, Partycrasher feels like a DESCENDENTS record played by IRON MAIDEN. "I'll wait till the end of the world / to get the last laugh on you," Nuno sings and his voice almost makes me desire the apocalypse.

It's also a stunning record, quietly.  "Iceman Left A Trail" has some pitch-perfect BAD RELIGION oozing ahhhhhs beneath and behind the fretboard wizardry at the front and the back of the song. If you've seen A WILHELM SCREAM, you don't have to work hard to imagine this song being performed with Trevor Reilly and Mike Supina grinning at each other like madmen, trading off the racing, intricate guitar leads. "Devil Don't Know" drops an acapella chorus that I swear is stolen out of Motown.

This is A WILHELM SCREAM's first not-Blasting Room recorded full length, though it's Blasting Room mixed, and if the band didn't make a point to mention it, I doubt the listener would notice. Errr, well, Nick Angelini's drums are less prominent in the mix. Blasting Room does drums in a specific way.

As of this writing, there's six absolute stunners and five other songs that don't click yet. I'm not worried. I felt that way about Career Suicide when I first heard it, too.

Reilly once said something like the band wouldn't release another record if it wasn't better than what came before it. And if you've spent any time alive at all, that sounds like complete horseshit. Bands release records all the time that pale in comparison to their prior material for any number of reasons (no inspiration, no time, new members, lazy writing, lazy living, contractual obligation, listener expectations, listener error) and lie because, well, they've got another record to sell.

Trouble is, each successive A WILHELM SCREAM record actually is better than the last.

Mute Print sounds positively amateur now, Ruiner followed it up with a pitiless focus, while ratcheting up the degree of difficulty, a year to breathe and then Career Suicide appeared, doing everything better, in less time, with two very epic songs (five odd minutes) to wreck the curve. The stopgap self-titled EP in 2009 showed even more dexterous solos than Career Suicide, where bassist Brian Robinson had the standout solo on the record.

Partycrasher has more technically challenging parts better integrated with the songs they're a part of. There's nothing over four minutes, but the songs lose none of their wow factor. There is joyful virtuosity in these songs, evident in the couple seconds of teasing on "Boat Builders," "Devil Don't Know" and "Born A Wise Man."

Speaking of closer "Born A Wise Man," it is everything I could want from an A WILHELM SCREAM song. It is fast, it is precise and it it speaks about what I assume is the band's origin. It treads similar themes to Career Suicide's closer "We Built This City! (On Debts And Booze)"

1)A WILHELM SCREAM isn't in this for the money, because there isn't any.
2) There's a lot of hard work involved that will go on for a very long time.
3) In a touring circuit of liars, frauds and disingenuous "heroes" out for a buck, A WILHLEM SCREAM is sincere. We know this because they tell us.

It's y'know, boilerplate, but the specifics shine.

I've only listened to Partycrasher straight for six days. My gut is I'll be less enthusiastic in a couple months. But then again, I'm so enthusiastic now I felt compelled to write. I know I'll be listening to Partycrasher for years to come, if that softens the blow.

I feel strange recommending a record that half of which is either there or hasn't clicked for me yet. I doubt I could do this with other bands, but I'm talking about A WILHELM SCREAM. They're good for it.

I paid No Idea $7 for a download on Halloween. If I had known the download didn't come with lyrics, I would have hesitated, but hopefully No Idea will rectify that.

In short: Partycrasher is faster and more squiggly and more catchy than you'd expect, from a band known for all of these things. It's a marvel, but it's A WILHELM SCREAM. They've made marvels their job.

Ladies, gentlemen, "Born A Wise Man." The whole song is great, but that thrashy outro is a challenge to us all. "The bar is now here," it says. "Who's up?"

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