We’ve been meaning to review this record since it was released back in June. No time like the present.“What’s Wrong With You” came just a year after the fantastic “That What You Hit”. Former Charlottefield vocalist/guitarist Tom House has released three albums in as many years under the Sweet Williams moniker. The difference here is that this is the first House has recorded with members of the Zaragoza based band Picore.
While it very much shares the mood of its predecessors and a fondness for repetition, there is a noticeable dynamic shift.
This is perhaps the first Sweet Williams record that really sounds like a band. “Dead Singer” swings, stutters and lumbers until halfway through. Whilst, at its core, it’s repetitive House’s vocals drop out and it locks in to a second repetitive Slint-esque groove. The darkness slightly rises as higher notes chime.
There’s a familiar intensity and “Steal It” is no different in this regard. A menacing tremelo picked guitar shred is accompanied by a powerful 3/4 groove as House’s signature grumble rests atop. Again, the band mix things up, this time both dynamically and rhythmically. They drop out altogether before treating us to some gloriously atonal guitar noise.
“Stopper” is perhaps the most frantic Sweet Williams song to date. It hits a pace you wouldn’t normally associate with the band. No less cyclical, it revolves around two parts; one in which the band plays a single note, the other in which the drums become more intricate and the bass pummels through three notes. House’s vocal is also perhaps the most raw we’ve heard him since his Charlottefield days.
They slip back into woozy territory on “Five Perfect Darts” but this again produces a hefty dynamic turn. The groove is absolutely vicious. It’s touched with the same sinister intensity as The Jesus Lizard at their best. It builds to a magnificent crescendo that truly hits home the spontaneity of working with a band.
Sitting at the midway point, the groove to “Woods Demand” is utterly filthy.
The drums are super taut, the bass rumbles with purpose and the clanging guitars pierce beneath the skin like acupuncture needles. There’s more than a hint of Duane Denison about them. House’s unsettling vocal melody only adds to the tense atmosphere.
“White Table” takes an entirely different approach. Gone are the pummelling grooves. The instruments crash around sparsely, yet in relative unison, while House’s vocal works as the glue which holds it all together. Very much an album track, this one.
Their penchant for 3/4 rhythm hits its apex on “Slide Right Off”.
The trapped loop of a bassline is accompanied by a busy drum pattern. This is juxtaposed with the overall instrumentation being surprisingly the most minimal. The guitars only making fleeting appearances hear and there. Ending with “Fucked Away” Sweet Williams end as they started. It shares the lolloping rhythm of “Dead Singer” but it’s… well… fucked. The guitars are gnarled, the sinister beauty of the album opener extracted like the left over Marmite from the beer making process. All the while House screams himself hoarse. It’s devastatingly ugly, just as it’s no doubt intended to be.
‘What’s Wrong With You’ is probably the best Sweet Williams album yet.
You may enjoy this if you like: Slint, The Jesus Lizard, Charlottefield