Here’s a new old dance: the Major Shuffle. Girls Against Boys have mastered this, jumping in with the post-grunge wave of indie signings back in ’96 (the amazing House of GVSB ended up being a co-release between indie Touch & Go and then-behemoth DGC, while 1998’s unlistenable Freak*on*ica may rank as the album I have seen the most copies of in used bins) before going on an extended hiatus.
Now they’ve retreated back to an indie, in their case Delaware’s Jade Tree, better known for their catalog of carcinogenic emo artists. And it shows. Gone is much of the hokiness of Freak*on*ica, buried alongside their penchant for astonishingly stupid album titles – Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby? Oh please – and back is the lean, groove-heavy rock of their work for Touch & Go. Founding member/recording engineer/multi-instrumentalist Eli Janney has always been crucial in defining the GVSB sound – when he picks up the bass, the dual-bottom end attack (alongside full-time bassist Johnny Temple) creates one of the most interesting soundscapes in post-punk. Conversely, when Janney works the keyboards, the result is a fairly uninteresting lite-grunge.
House was heavy on the former strategy, Freak*on*ica the latter, and You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See splits the two. The treblier the tracks, the less interesting they are. Guitarist/vocalist Scott McCloud, with his distinctive smoky cotton-mouthed drawl, is far too busy trying to sound sexy on the mic to allow his instrumental chops to carry songs. But when Janney and Temple do pull off a total package, the result is heavy and slippery, danceable and mean.
Whatever dance you may be choosing to do.
[DJ Fatkid is undefeated in dance battles.]