Predatory Headlights

Written by: PP on 16/11/2015 22:32:50

Tenement have always been a fairly weird and unpredictable band to deal with, given how liberally they shift between different styles of punk and alternative rock often in the same song. But despite knowing that, few things can prepare you for their new 24-track album "Predatory Headlights", a record that takes punk on an almost mythical journey of epic proportions leaving other forward-thinking contemporaries like Morning Glory far behind them. What Tenement does throughout the 75-minutes is nothing short but awe-inspiring in terms of artistic completeness. Who else can arrange a silent classical piano-fueled, orchestral strings backed track like "The Dishwasher's Meal" against buzzing guitars and Superchunk recalling melodic treble of "Dull Joy" and "Feral Cat Tribe" on the same album?

Indeed, Tenement vary their expression radically throughout the album. What starts out as straightforward punk rock with garage and alternative rock undertones on "Crop Circle Nation" evolves into a theatrical opera of sorts on the second half of the album. A good example is the abnormally strange nine-minute instrumental piece "A Frightening Place For Normal People", which combines schizophrenic experimental jazz with tribal jungle percussion and an overall creepy atmosphere. Equally weird is "Licking A Wound", a quiet track that resonates with the singer-songwriter crowd partially, but strays away even from this group with its eerie darkness. These types of tracks are definitively arts-driven where the musical value of the songs will depend on your view about experimental music at large: for the undersigned, they are a distraction and easily skippable tracks to reach the most enjoyable sections of the album. "The Butcher", for instance, is another solid punk-fueled track that references 90s guitar distortion in the vein of Dinosaur Jr and other similar acts.

As such, "Predatory Headlights" is a frustrating listen. There are moments where Tenement deliver their energetic, cheerful Midwestern punk expression in such a catchy and convincing manner that few people can say no to. Cut away half of the album and you've got a buzzing molotov cocktail worth of killer mid-tempo garage punk that all Superchunk et al fans should be able to enjoy. But in its current state, the record leaves much to be desired from track eight "Ants + Flies" onwards, where the record primarily concentrates on pushing the envelope as far as possible within Tenement's realm. An impressive feat in terms of musicianship, but not so relevant from a music fan's point of view.

Download: Dull Joy, Feral Cat Tribe
For the fans of: Superchunk, Morning Glory, The Thermals
Listen: Facebook

Release date 02.06.2015
Don Giovanni

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