The Herms

Record Machine

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Naming an album Record Machine might lead one to believe that said album could plunder a jukebox's worth of musical styles, and indeed the leadoff title track of said album, the Herms' debut full-length, does manage to pilfer the guitar line from Bauhaus' "Stigmata Martyr" and the vocal line from both David Bowie's "Scary Monsters" and New Order's "Blue Monday." But that is where the near-copyright infringement ceases, and the majority of what follows is an entirely original and highly entertaining distillation of sharp-witted and energetic punk-pop-a-go-go in a league with the Fall and the Jazz Butcher. Up front, on tracks like the title track, "Dysko" and "Get On," it's a slashing guitar and jerky bass attack with a primal pummeling from the drums and vocals that embody dry snarkiness. Things soften up a bit on "Volleyball" and "$ Short" with the addition of cheesy new wave keyboards. "Methylene Baby" is a cowpunk rave-up suitable for destroying the garage at an out-of-control house party. "Now Everyone" is a melancholy Brechtian piano and accordion waltz. "Zombie Divine" sounds like an experiment gone awry at the Wurlitzer shop in the mall. "Checkered Room" careens between art-punk bashing and loopy circus calliope rhythms, and crashes to a halt in front of a cheap porn video. Some tracks, like "Rider Diddy" and "Art School Groove" are mere minute-or-less-long workouts for living room dance parties. Others, like "All the Things You Do," "The Organization" and "Power Joystick" are more fleshed out and mature in composition. The vast majority are succinct in their brevity and punch; they get in and get out without fussing over perfection or worrying about lingering long in the listener's mind. And in that approach, they achieve absolute perfection, little nuggets of garagey goodness, perfect for a pogo party in a post-apocalyptic paradise.

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