The Birthmarks are back with the follow up to 2017’s Yawn/Sigh. Comprised of members of the Sex Hands, Irma Vep and Dom Jolly, we have been eagerly anticipating a new release. As with many releases on the ever-reliable Permanent Slump there is a peculiar monotony and slacker sound underpinning The Birthmarks’ music – like The Rebel with a predilection for 13th Floor Elevators. No Slash EP is packed with fantastically skewed lo-fi indie.
Single and opening track “Fan Fiction” has a brilliantly catchy guitar hook, a bouncing drumbeat and a great sense of fun and astute dynamic shifts.
“The Worm” is a great piece of slacker indie, with drum rolls that sound like they’re about to fall apart. The delayed vocal melody is like a dreamy Let’s Wrestle, with wonderful wonky guitars and keyboards. “Dog Man’s” attention grabbing stop/start intro gives way to woozy jangle pop. It’s like the more straightforward moments of later Ariel Pink records.
The bridge towards the end particularly features some rather gloriously wobbly keyboards that give a psychedelic edge to the clanging guitars and simple 4/4 drums.
The second half of the EP is reserved for less orthodox moments.
“The Mark”, a strange instrumental, pairs everything down to just distorting keyboards, crooked guitar strums and lead noodling. It’s the sort of interlude you might find on early records by Let’s Wrestle, Pavement or labelmates Life Drawings.
“Fan Fiction Part 2” shares very little in common with its earlier namesake. Featuring spoken word vocals by Bryony Daweson, crashing drums, squealing saxophones, this slow, trippy freak out is a departure from the Birthmarks formula and an intriguing direction. Perhaps the most vibrant sounding track on the EP.
“Walking Cringe” resumes and closes the standard songwriting. Another woozy track with a Kurt Vile or Real Estate sleepiness. Dylan Hughes returns to the vocals which peak and distort satisfyingly alongside the guitars. Moving on from perhaps the most lo-fi sounding track on the album, “Fan Fiction TDA Remix” finishes it off as they started. However, it sounds like it has been filtered through a Nintendo Entertainment System soundcard.
The remix brings a new edge to the song with the lyrics more audible and the whacky keyboards. This makes it sound almost like Terry. There is something very retro about The Birthmarks’ music. It sounds like it could have been made any time in the last sixty years. I’m just glad it’s now.
You may enjoy this if you like: Ariel Pink, Terry, The Stroppies, The Shifters, Real Estate, 13th Floor Elevators, The Rebel.