Gloop should make a shirt that reads, “Breakdowns are for wussies.”
That’s because these guys don’t need those types of things to prove precisely how hard they are. “Junk Drawer,” the trio’s debut EP, quite possibly might be the most aggressive release Frederick has seen in 2017. Drenched in sweat, angst and power, these five songs are as straight-forward as they come — and that’s a good thing. There’s no need for predictable tropes or poppy textures; these guys mean business. These guys will simultaneously punch you in the face and smile. These guys will set your house on fire with you in it. These guys must not be messed with.
These guys sound like their name should be Gloop.
And you only need 12 seconds to figure that out. Opener “Sad Man Meal” begins with the band in classic form: A simple power-guitar pattern, buried screaming vocals and driving hard-rock drums. At first glance, it seems like there isn’t much to it, but having a plan and sticking to it in music is one of the hardest tricks to pull off, yet it’s a trick Gloop have mastered. The song amounts to the dawn of an all-night rager fueled by Pabst and adrenaline. Plus, it lays the groundwork for the chaos that’s about to ensue.
Pay no mind that the band brings it back down (relatively speaking, at least) for the set’s best track, “I Heard Her Talkin.” The most accessible of the bunch, it will haunt your subconscious for days. Eased in with a droning guitar, a sparse drum pattern grants the proceedings energy and atmosphere and those faded vocals assert the song’s namesake. It’s transfixing the way everything unfolds, from the repetitive verses to the anarchic, driving chorus that allows all hell to break loose. The track is the most dynamic the group gets and it suggests something brighter than a shiny future.
Plus, it sets up a killer guitar riff that kicks off “An Offering.” Again, staying true to the power of simplicity, a catchy six-string walk takes place as the full band kicks in, resonating beyond the first few listens. And despite the trio’s best efforts to keep all vocals in the background, they actually step forward here, creating a melodic undertone some listeners might not expect. Actually, such is Gloop’s most unheralded weapon: the ability to flip out as much as chill out. Even when they aren’t screaming, they find ways to stay interesting all the same, and that’s no easy feat.
“Rest Area 51” promptly takes that calm and beats it down with a storm. Anchored by a vaguely surf-rock-inspired guitar lick, it kicks the set back into seventh gear with its Clutch-meets-Snapcase vocal philosophy. Perhaps the most pugnacious track here, it’s the sonic equivalent of a back-road car crash. Refusing to slow down or settle down, it eventually calls back to its surf-rock ethos with a bridge that unfolds in a violently glorious fashion. You aren’t sure if you want to spend your time dancing or punching a hole through a wall.
And then there’s “Blueberries For Supper,” which closes the EP out with a tiny modicum of delicacy. At more than five minutes, it’s the longest song here and it puts the trio’s overlooked versatility front and center. Does it work as well its abrasive counterparts? Maybe not as much, but it still draws the listener in with its sugary hook and makeshift guitar solo that helps make the bridge shine. And Even so, it serves a very valuable purpose while considering the collection as a whole. That purpose? The unapologetic — and subsequent proclamation — of arrival in terms of flexibility.
Yet in truth, even if Gloop decided to offer another fist-through-window, take-no-prisoners, scream-tastic fifth track, they could be forgiven. Why? Because that’s what they do best, and that’s what makes “Junk Drawer” so appealing. Uncomplicated, unrepentant and unavoidable, these five songs make Gloop a band essential to follow as their journey unfolds. They draw you in just to spit in your face, all the while suggesting that they might even give you a hug once you wipe your eyes dry.
Or, in other words, no breakdowns needed here. Because Gloop, in all their glory, are anything but wussies.
*** 3 STARS OUT OF 4 ***