06 June 2009

Tobacco – Fucked Up Friends

Anticon (2009)

Not content with releasing Eating Us earlier this summer, Black Moth Super Rainbow mainman Tobacco goes weirdly prolific for a solo release on Californian label Anticon.

BMSR’s (those initials so make me think of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club despite, you know, being different) last album, Eating Us, was fairly good. Pretty much the definition of pastoral electronica, it presented a cleaner sound for the band, as they - presumably unintentionally - filled the Boards-shaped gap that has opened since 2006.

When I say Fucked Up Friends is also rather Boardsish, but far more convincing an album in its own right, it could seem confusing. Why, for instance, bother releasing two albums when one is so clearly superior to the other? The answer lies in the fact that, while Eating Us is efficiently shiny, albeit hollow, confection, Fucked Up Friends is rather more lairy beast. As its name implies. But this is thankfully no switch to the lagered-up, deluded ladrocktronica of, say, Kasabian.

No, FUF is lairy in a good way. It’s reminiscent of Boards Of Canada in thick synth and solid beats only. Unlike so many practitioners who think they can take us to a beautiful place in the country with some lazy boom-bap and analogue tones, Tobacco makes the aesthetic his own. Out of the window flies any pretence of hauntology or wack po-facedness. Instead, beats and fuzzed melody are the prime currency.

And it’s great. It’s punk rock electro, only without the stress of trying to keep up with a restless Kid606 or Phantomsmasher. This is pop music in full force, but without the usual condescension that accompanies such a description, or the lameness of a La Roux or Passion Pit. Pop-punk electro? Well it’s gone in 36 minutes and you’re left with a pure high, much like the imminent Ear Pwr record, so why not. It’s Anticon through and through, but without any emo hand-wringing or half-baked politics.

The revolutionary forces of long-play dubstep are massing on the autumnal horizon, with their thrilling brand of darkness and murk. Until then, we have the summer, both physically and musically. And while that hard rain may soon fall, here is a shot of aural vitamin C to help us make the most of the rising mercury.

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