Bare Mutants

The Affliction

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Bringing forth the cloudy reverb of Jesus and Mary Chain and the crunchy bite of the Velvet Underground, for Bare Mutants' In the Red debut, Affliction, frontman Jered Gummere (formerly of the Ponys) meshes a cool, dreamy palette with an ear for his own brand of pop jingles, which are simple and classic-sounding but still clearly cut from his own cloth. Getting musical support from veterans like Jeanine O' Toole of the 1900s and Seth Bohn of the Mannequin Men didn't hurt, and the other performers (organist Leslie Deckard, and drummer Matt Holland) do a nice job solidifying Gummere's vision. There are rough and aggressive leather-clad aspects, but on the whole, these are slow, steady ballads served with a sneer. Gummere seems sharp and incisive throughout, with washed-out baritone vocals and biting guitar parts that are equally spot-on. Meanwhile, self-defeatism seeps into his lyrics with lines like "I suck at life," or the more descriptive "life took a dump on me today." These aching sentiments take the form of serenades with the help of O'Toole's sweetly harmonized vocals, while drones and feedback pay tribute to the amplified surge of rock's early garage days and add a rhythmic charge that pushes simple choruses into mantras. Rarely do the tracks venture far from a two-chord structure, but the album's heartbeat pulse can be somewhat hypnotizing, and the big, dynamic swells of distortion take the similarly phrased "Without You," "Devotion," "Crying with Bob," and "Growing" into fiery climaxes that feel emotional and majestic.

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