A seam of self-deprecation and sarcasm runs throughout Vomitface’s latest album.
Vomitface have been making New York rock out to their queasy drunken grungey-punk for since they formed in 2012. The trio is comprised of Jared Micah on vocals, guitar and piano; Preetma Singh on drums and Angela Phillips on bass. They are renowned for their hard work having put many hours in at the studio and stage. Whilst they certainly do come from the grunge side of the spectrum, the result is quite minimal and mathematical. Most songs have a poetic, rhythmic two chorus approach that sees bursts of drunken guitar solos and solid drum breakdowns. A seam of self-deprecation and sarcasm runs throughout the album.
Five seconds into the album and you know that although there are strains of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Mudhoney. However, this band is wittier, musically and lyrically than all of these grunge staples. The instrumentation often sounds like a punch-line to the achingly self-obsessed lyrics. The interlacing of an upbeat tune with a dreary alt chorus shows off their sense of humour in most songs on the album.
There are a couple of tracks that knock you sidewise with a sloppy fist: single ‘Chew Toy’ appearing at the end of the album is one of these. It is relentless and confused. The binary of the two different choruses communicates a constant flux of self-aggrandisement with shrivelling embarrassment and uncertainty. For instance: “Who came before is obsolete, hope you don’t ever count on me. I hear applause it’s all for me- Hooray for Me” suggests the age-old dilemma of being a performer – you’re never certain of your art and you need that accreditation of others, no matter how much you might deny it. Perhaps this is a difficult band to work with. The drums in ‘Chew Toy’ almost seem to cheer-lead Micah on as he vocalises these internal thoughts. The guitar moves up and down scales in tremolo. Micah continues to describe his journey to self-affirmation “My shakes are firmer now”. As the track draws to a close it moves into a self-aggrandising half-time, show-boating the skill of the musicians. Hooray for them indeed.
Earlier on in the album, the fifth song, comes in with a typical woozy guitar out of which emerges a dizzy syncopated vocal with almost surf style backing singing. “And it’s me unfortunately, and it’s my fault and I’m sorry. When I’m in hell I’ll save you a seat, next to me unfortunately”. This tide of insufferable self-pity is broken down by half-time toms “and the air and the standing water in our sink are unnervingly still…” chants Micah, adding a definite sense of unease. There is something declamatory about the presence of Vomitface – they are very funny, but turns like these give an air of uncomfortable eeriness to the album that adds another dimension to what could be quite simple music.
‘Et Cetera’, breaks down a potentially good relationship into exactly that- “etcetera etcetera”. Starting off as an upbeat punk number, it yet again is alternated with a second chorus that is demonstrative of the innermost fears of the singer. The jaunty punk slows into a sickening half time “The stress, the sighs, the reeling gets you right between the eyes” before moving seamlessly back to the first tune. ‘Fat Witch’ describes a fantasy of having sex with a larger woman acted out. There is a lot of humour and colour to the lyrics here and the self-loathing is again evident.
The penultimate tune, ‘Wait’, is about a girl who is suicidal- this sees Vomitface take on a softer personality- the melody is gentle, more shoegazey. “But don’t you want to wait? Don’t you want to wait to see what’s next? Don’t you think it’s great- the way that everything seems to connect?”
The final number, ‘Eastern Bloc Party’, starts with a chugging bass line. Micah’s dry vocal joins in “Mercury is still in retrograde, but it’s ok.” A description of touring/travelling follows before the guitar breaks down with a superb squeal, entering into a solo that is almost digital sounding due to the distortion. It also almost sounds like a whining vocalist itself. The album chugs out with an emphatic use of crash, ending abruptly.
Vomitface could be described as being a bit like so many bands, but in truth, they have matched elements of post-punk and grunge with exceptional skill, rhythm, humour and humanity to produce something truly listenable and witty. This is fresh Vomitface.
‘Hurray for Me’ is out on 26th August via Help Yourself Records.
This Vomitface article was written by Fraisia Dunn, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.