There is probably a perfectly adequate explanation as to why The National have been the major musical export from Cincinnati throughout the previous decade when, by rights, the honour should belong to alt-country grunge meisters, Wussy. Six albums in 15 years, all of a consistent quality and blessed with a wry humour which impregnates their lyrical content ought to have done the trick, giving Wussy bragging rights over their illustrious city neighbours when they get together at the annual Cincinnati Oktoberfest, as I’m sure they do. Perhaps the world just doesn’t want to be happy anymore.
Forever Sounds picks up where the band left off in 2014 with the really rather excellent Attica! Vocalists Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker continue to share the duties and occasionally bounce off of each other as with opener ‘Dropping Houses’, which recalls a past cataclysmic relationship mirrored perfectly with fuzzy, wailing guitars which are equally as disharmonious. Much has been made of Wussy’s ability to meld early 90’s grunge with a more country-ish tinge and never has this been better illustrated than on the foot-stomping ‘She’s Killed Hundreds’ which has Cleaver coming over all Frank Black. Hell, this track is 2:47 of pure Pixies mayhem.
There would appear to be a worrying predilection with the afterlife on Forever Sounds, aside from the previously mentioned track there are titles such as ‘Donny’s Death Scene’ and ‘Hello, I’m A Ghost’ as well as ‘Gone’ which lends itself perfectly to the inevitable Drive By Truckers comparisons. Halfway through Forever Sounds is where the problems start to manifest themselves; ‘Hand Of God’ turns out not to be a violent missive on the injustice of Mexico City ’86 but a rather plodding and breathy vocal from Walker which is off-kilter with the thrilling commotion which precedes it.
Regrettably, I’m not sure the remainder of the album ever really pulls the narrative back from the precipice of being ‘just a nice listen’. ‘Better Days‘, by way of example, sees Cleaver and Walker optimistically walking us through a bright view of the future and whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with the track, our appetites have already been whetted for something a little more kinetic. Eventually, the album peters out with the cartoon ‘Folk Night At Fuckies’ which has no place anywhere other than on a B-side.
If this all sounds somewhat harsh then it’s because I’m disappointed. Wussy deserve far more attention than they currently receive and I’m struggling to pinpoint whether it’s their sound being too dated or just inadequate PR, but actually I know it’s neither of these things. There is, as I suggested at the start, a perfectly straightforward explanation as to why Wussy are not enjoying equal critical acclaim to their contemporaries. Like me, when I’m out running on a Sunday morning, they start off well but eventually run out of stamina. Forever Sounds is a magnificently frenetic downhill sprint of an album for around half its run time before plodding uphill in need of hydration by the end.
Forever Sounds is released on March 4th 2016 on Damnably
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.