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Screens – Dead House

on May 02, 2011, 7:57am
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Dead House is a collection of 13 strange, pop-length pieces from Brooklyn post-punk oddities Screens, with the opening title track setting the mood for I’m not quite sure what. On the one hand, the lumpy piano discords might be something your cat could come up with if let loose to tickle the ivories, but then again, it is quite chilling and oddly compelling. Something bad is about to happen, and the lights have gone out. None of this prepares you for the pounding tribal drum rhythms that follow on “Saturdays”, or “Shudder”, on which vocalist Breck Brunson does a passable Siouxie Sioux impression alongside drummer Andrew Becker’s Budgie.

Listening to Brunson is, I imagine, like having an out-of-body experience, as he seems to be operating on a distant plane where an alien language translator might come in useful. Yet, at times, the band weaves an intriguing sonic web, and the result is confusingly listenable. I like the challengingly titled track six, “// — \”, which could be something you once saw carved on a rock in an episode of Lost. You will find Dead House on What Delicate Recordings, a curious Brooklyn-bound label whose website is so seriously out of date that Screens isn’t on it and the label is seeking submissions for 2009. Maybe it has discovered the secret of time travel. If so, please, can I have this Saturday night’s lottery numbers?

The album loses its way a bit in the middle section but picks up again towards the end. Listening to the entire recording suggests a film score in need of some visuals. Easy listening this largely isn’t, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments. Along with track four, “Pop Logic”, the penultimate song, “Cataplexy”, is probably the closest to a conventional song here. Brunson sounds less like Siouxie here and more akin to a deranged Robert Smith with hiccups. Haven’t a clue what it’s about, but it’s a neat title, and, actually, the song’s quite good. John Peel would have loved it, and that’s no bad testimony.

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