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Flat Worms return with their beautiful blend of amped-up psych, scorched post-punk and scuzzy-wuzzy garage rock on second album Antarctica (possibly third depending on how we class 2019’s Into The Iris). Recorded by the legendary Steve Albini, Antarctica is perhaps easier digested to the fair-weather fan than 2017’s self-titled debut album, which was certainly more gnarled-up.
Released: April 2020 Cat: GOD018 Label: GOD
1. The Aughts 2. Plaster Casts 3. Market Forces 4. Antarctica 5. Via 6. The Mine 7. Ripper 1 8. Condo Colony 9. Signals 10. Wet Concrete 11. Terms of Visitation
For better or worse, Antarctica has shown us what happens when the guys step up the swagger
It’s always a good sign when an album’s lead single is the best thing a band has ever done; such is the case with garage-punk outfit Flat Worms and ‘Market Forces’. It’s a track that takes the band slightly outside scuzzy, lo-fi rock and treads a cleaner and more straightforward garage rock line. It beams with a higher sheen production than previous releases and has an earworm guitar lick that will keep you busy for days.
The polished production is pertinent too, because it’s certainly evident on Antarctica, particularly side-by-side with the band’s 2017’s debut. The production is not scientific or fabricated by any means, but the touch of notorious rock producer Steve Albini is clear to see. Flat Worms’ eponymous debut album evoked humid dive-bar-basements, cram-packed with sweating barbarians looking to get torn a new earhole. Antarctica has shown us what happens when the guys step up the swagger a little and throw on a clean denim shirt.
Alongside the wonderful ‘Market Forces’, album opener, ‘The Aughts’, is a solid psychy-garage single, perhaps the track most evocative of first album Flat Worms and the second-best track on the new album.
And the remaining 25+ minutes? I didn’t enjoy it much. There was a tough realisation. Antarctica meanders and veers, devoid of identity and struggling to settle on something cohesive. Antarctica feels prosaic and rudderless the longer it continues. The title track 'Antarctica' is undirected and listless, a misstep slump into slacker rock à la Parquet Courts. The following track ‘Via’ is nonchalant and toothless. Where is the bombast, the bite, the grit? In the end, as the lacklustre ‘Terms Of Visitation’ brings the album to an abrupt end, I felt unstirred and underwhelmed by a record that couldn’t figure out what it wanted it to be.