Black Time

Aerial Gobs of Love

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On first listen, London garage rock band Black Time's fourth album seems frighteningly noisy and abrasive, but it's actually their cleanest-sounding album. Previous albums such as Blackout and Midnight World were unhinged and nightmarish, both in tone and subject matter (choice song titles include "Cold Lips Taste Better," "Mass Production of Corpses," and "Office Suicide"). Aerial Gobs of Love, recorded primarily in 2009 but not finished or released until 2015, is still hair-raising, but they show a little bit of restraint on the distortion, allowing their sound more room to breathe. A few of these songs are more hooky and melodic than anything else they've done; "Industrial Anxiety" almost sounds like an indie dance anthem in comparison. Six-minute "Flakes" even features prominent acoustic guitar, but with enough obnoxious, tunelessly caterwauled vocals and rude lyrics ("I'm sure you're a nice person, but you're full of shiiiiiit!") to assure that the band hasn't quite gone soft. Aptly titled instrumental "Tarzan vs. IBM" mixes primitive drum machines and haunting pianos with walls of backward guitar feedback, and scattered dub experiment "Aerial Dub" takes their abstract side even further, with disembodied horns and sneering vocals echoing out over arrhythmic, very non-reggae noise. Coming much closer to normal are songs such as the Gories-like stomp of "More Pricks Than Kicks," fuzz-organ basher "Cave Paintings," and hope-destroying "No Expectations." Album-closer "Tolling of the Bell" whines "it's time for us to go," possibly putting a lid on this band's coffin. Aerial Gobs of Love finds the tiniest bit of sunlight seep into Black Time's midnight world before the lights go out entirely.

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