Pop Will Eat Itself

New Noise Designed by a Sadist

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With Carter USM and Ned's Atomic Dustbin continuing to draw crowds with their recent reunion tours, the short-lived Grebo scene is witnessing something of an unexpected if low-key revival of late. Six years after briefly re-forming for a series of live shows, one of its biggest exponents, Pop Will Eat Itself, attempts to further its resurgence with their first studio album since 1994's Dos Dedos Mis Amigos. New Noise Designed by a Sadist may only feature one original member (frontman Graham Crabb), but its 11 tracks bear all the hallmarks of their heyday, particularly "Equal Zero," whose buzzing guitar hooks, swirling techno bleeps, and clattering beats could have sat alongside their collaboration with the Prodigy on Music for the Jilted Generation, and "Wasted (Pt. 1)," (one of three tracks fronted by Gaye Bykers on Acid's Mary Byker), whose snarling vocals, industrial riffs, and scuzzy guitars echo John Lydon's forays into electronica. Indeed, other than the diatribe against reality shows on "Nosebleeder Turbo TV" (one of several tracks here originally intended for their unfinished 2005 album, or recorded by spin-off Vileevils), the majority of the album sounds like it's been left in storage since their original disbanding. It's not a particularly major flaw, as other than the doom-laden opener "Back 2 Business," which worryingly evokes one-hit wonders Babylon Zoo, it's a pleasingly nostalgic journey back to the early '90s, with convincing nods to grunge on the album's most melodic offering, "Disguise"; vintage drum‘n'bass on the distortion-laden "Oldskool Cool"; or ambient chillout on the sinister, spacy synths of "Wasted (Pt.2)." But it's one which is unlikely to draw in anyone who wasn't born when the era of dreadlocks, baggy, tatty jeans, and army jackets was at its peak. Nevertheless, New Noise Designed by a Sadist is still a worthwhile addition to the Grebo scene's rather sparse back catalog from an underrated band whose influence is much stronger than most people acknowledge.

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