Devoid of guitar, they build melodies around John No’s (Fleshies, Triclops) bass with an energetic rhythm fill from drummer Megan March (Before the Fall). While they alternate vocals, March takes slightly fewer reps at the lead vocal duties, offering a backing, choral role that is well suited to maintaining her pace at the kit. Generally, the lead vocalist (whoever it is, depending on the song) offers a sort of shouted caterwaul over the noisy backdrop, while the secondary vocalist fills in with a repeated, shouted refrain. Meanwhile, the bass hooks gain energy, building to a cathartic-type shout-along.
The opening track “Heavy Into Nothing” quickly establishes the band’s primary sound: high energy, big catchy hooks, and a lot of shouting. It’s among the album’s best tracks and it’s somewhat unfortunate that they don’t maintain the same groove over the course of the whole record. Not to say the record is a stinker—anything but—just that the ebb and flow of upbeat shouty numbers mixed with more experimental, wandering tracks doesn’t live up to the same burst that comes through in the record’s first three minutes. They set the bar high. Another standout is “Nation Builder,” which is a great example of the influence I’m having trouble identifying. Something in the way they build their tempo and energy has a ‘90s feel that’s eluding me.
While an incredibly loud record (giving The Hussy a run for loudest two-piece record of the year), they mix it up over the course of the twelve* songs, with bare-bones tracks like “Through the Cracks,” a melodic piece that breaks down into a calm, repetitive pace-changer, and “Livid Lizard,” which has a bit of distortion-laden Melvins to the madness, drudging and plodding instead of ripping through the notes. Throughout all the noise, distortion, and shouting is a sense of hooky melody that ties it all together without grating or sounding experimental. They take a pop base, but they punk it up with considerable angst while layering experimental pieces somewhere in the middle.