Flatworms by FlatwormsRelease date: October 13, 2017
Label: Castle Face Records
The video to Flat Worms ‘Petulance’, the flip side to their ‘Red hot sands’ single sees the band and friends dance around improv style in a convenience store. They groove along to the song down aisles using a wealth of props at their disposal to swing around or just hold as they’re clearly enjoying the freedom to have a dance party in a local store, otherwise virtually impossible in everyday circumstances. ‘Petulance’ doesn’t feature on Flat Worms self-titled debut album but the video is a fine taster of the punky dance-ability and humour at play in their music, which continues aplenty on the said long player.
Emerging from the same fertile Californian stable as Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, Flat Worms do indeed consist of the former’s bassist Tim Hellman. Accompanying him is The Babies and Kevin Morby associated Justin Sullivan on drums, while vocals and guitar are delivered by Dream Boys Will Ivy.
The self-titled debut album, out on Castle Face Records, sees them carve out a subtle own graving from their more renowned peers. Their sound is a distinctively direct Indie Punk car chase rather than the acid fried experimental, progressive soundscapes psych of their afore-mentioned connections.
They blitz through proceedings with all the buzzsaw thrills, over-spilling feedback, and energetic overdrive of Husker Du, The Buzzcocks, Pixies, early Pavement, Wire, The Fall without ever sounding specifically like any of them. The opener ‘Motorbike’ will have you shaking your booty in the same free-form fashion as the said video. And it continues throughout to leave a breathless, consistent ten-strong set of an album.
‘Goodbye Texas’ pummels and thrashes in gloriously riotous punk fashion. ‘Pearl’ combines thick melodic fuzz, a bouncy tempo, and a mighty guitar noise blast which the remaining Thee Oh Sees members would be proud, even jealous. And the aural noisy drenched pleasure continues as “Accelerated’ opens with a reminiscence of the much-missed Sonic Youth before it takes its own course to sound nothing else but like Flat Worms.
It would be harsh to say it takes a dip in the later middle section because it’s an enjoyable blast from start to finish, but the two closing tracks – ‘Question’ and ‘Red hot sand’ – are a return to the essential excellence of the opening five songs. With the latter ending on a flurried wig-out which, for the first time, bears a brief resemblance to Tim’s main employment Thee Oh Sees/Oh Sees or what other form they are calling themselves by the time this is fully written and online.
But what also helps to set them apart is Will’s monotone vocal delivery. A shrug of the shoulders dry, sardonic attitude and humour, which offsets brilliantly with the full pelt, upbeat tempo and melodic Indie Punk anthems surrounding it. It’s a subtle styling but these small nuanced differences can be the jewel in an otherwise crowded shop. It gives them, indeed, the room to dance in their own idiosyncratic way.
Flat Worms motion rousing, thrilling debut has sneeringly shimmered into my top 10 albums of the year.