WARP RECORDS 7th MAY 2021
A terrific mash-up of influences, ideas and styles, resulting in a refreshingly new album. Despite the pervasive influence of Spotify, this needs to be experienced as a whole, to savour the rollercoaster of experiences within.
With flavours from jerky punk-funk, to the industrial synths of Throbbing Gristle to The Fall to jazz to post-punk, Squid play fast and loose with expectations. Perpetually willing to suddenly drop a tune or switch direction in favour of something radically different, there is a multi-tentacled grab at ideas in all directions. Definitely not background music, the band insist on you paying attention, lest they shake you off on a sinuous fast curve. Guitarist & vocalist, Louis Borlase says, “It’s the most ambitious thing we’ve ever done but it was also the most fun.”
Songs are lengthy and the eleven tracks belie the fact that three of them are only a minute long, leaving 8 songs over a fifty minute album. Even the new single, Paddling, is six minutes long. A laconic, cryptic vocal sits with a niggling guitar figure before the whole thing gets upbeat, dancy and yelpy. Elsewhere, the opening minute ties together a swinging microphone, church bells and bees, setting expectations high. It is followed by a nicely dragging Krautrock beat and desperate vocals. The beat then shifts to a rolling one for an eight minute track. Boy Racers is lots of fun with vocals yelping like an early Mark E Smith and a grooving musicality before dropping to a quiet drone that builds to a big droning siren synth of the sort Carter and Christopherson pushed out for TG.
You’ll also find a calm version of the band on Documentary Filmmaker with jazzy wind instruments borrowed in. 2010 shifts from business as normal (or what passes as normal on this album) to crashing chaos in a moment. Global Groove is paced and moody, avoids a groove and instead laments overconsumption and its flattening of affect as we are ‘tap, tap, tapping away, to the global groove’. Pamphlets is a slice of jerky funk nodding to A Certain Ratio and Cabaret Voltaire.
On the evidence of this Squid are ambitious, pretentious and convinced of their own abilities, with the skills to justify their beliefs. Complex, shifting, squeezing out in unexpected directions whilst rhythms tug to multiple compass points, this is an exciting debut album.