Deep end of the pool: Purse dives into layers of sound in adventurous outing

Put It In The Pool, the latest release from the Ginette Labonville-fronted trio, Purse, is a noisy, sludgy, idea-stuffed affair that makes the best use of its production decisions, sequencing and area travelled within each track. Though technical errors exist throughout (some by choice), something has been captured in these performances, and the way they have been layered, that goes beyond getting it “right.”

“Hot Swap” kicks things off with a tinny-sounding band playing a fairly standard '90s rock groove. Listening in the car for the first time, I admittedly had to unplug and replug my auxiliary cable, adjusting the volume on my phone and the speakers for the first 30 seconds because there could be no way that this was how it was supposed to sound. Luckily, the bass started coming through and the depth of sound increased to a level that made more sense. The shift in audio quality is accompanied by the feel changing to a waltz, the vocals joining in shortly afterwards, doubled and buried in a haze, barely comprehensible but completely appropriate for the atmosphere being created. This sound continues to grow, the guitar droning out on a few notes while the bass and drums build in intensity until everything has to let loose, culminating in a cohesive melodic line played just after the four-minute mark and only repeated once before cooling out with a final verse.

The track is adventurous in its simplicity and is a solid primer for where the rest of the record will go. A primary groove tends to be the foundation for most of these songs, held down by Noah Defilippis’ aggressive bass playing and Bob Smyth’s playfully heavy drumming. When these two hit on something gross and loud, it’s as gross and loud, and low, as a rhythm section can get. The band is also antsy enough that feel and time changes are present in a number of tracks.

“Diamonds” is probably the most immediately accessible song here, leading with a cool, Sonic Youth-y intro, a fun bassline that contains all the perfect wrong notes, vocals you can actually decipher and a curveball of a bridge that leads into a kinetic outro. If there were any issue to be had with this track, it would be that the instrumental choruses don’t have quite the same oomph as the other sections. Based on previous sets I’ve seen, I’m positive that this would not be the case live.

“Static Stars” builds from beachy, complimentary guitar and bass lines under floaty vocals to something much darker with lyrics delivered like some sort of mantra. The release/outro of this section also features an odd guitar part that rhythmically seems like the last place to go but works extremely well. There are a lot of moments in these songs where you get an ominous feeling, things are not right, and its decisions such as these, where it’s how certain parts are played or where they’ve been placed in the mix, that accomplish this, not necessarily anything blatantly sung.

The scuzziest track would have to be “Up All Night,” which has a guitar tone that makes most of the notes into an unidentifiable mess. The fuzz gets increased during the choruses which add more distortion on top of already distorted bass and some effected male vocals for good measure. It’s not a very melodic track, just big and fuzzy, which makes “Heart of Stone” as a follow-up all the more satisfying; in doing what’s expected, it’s actually more shocking than some of the more oddball decisions here.

Based around a bluesy riff that hits hard, the intro to “Heart of Stone” would offer many a funk listener major stinkface. About a minute in, the chorus begins and essentially just takes a slight variation on the riff that’s already been introduced and doubles the vocal melody. It isn’t anything crazy but in focusing on one melody and making it come across crystal clear with all of the power that they’ve shown to be capable of, it ends up sounding unique when in fact it’s probably the most conventionally obvious choice they could make. The identity they’ve established for themselves on previous recordings, and on the first half of this record, doesn’t add up to being this straightforward and therefore makes the track work, plus it’s a bonus when the bridge buildup gets extra heavy.

The remainder of the record continues to offer surprises and rewards for those that stick with it. It’s the type of album that while the traditional ingredients are all present, they aren’t necessarily used in the ways that are most familiar. Digging through how they’ve decided to arrange these elements, hunting for little melodic gems that have been hidden between uglier, messier sections, that’s just part of the fun.

Put It In The Pool is available to stream and order at purse22.bandcamp.com

Last modified onWednesday, 04 May 2016 11:28