Get in and thrash around

Purse snatch and grab for attention on Indiana
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  May 29, 2014

 music_indiana_main

Purse are definitely leader in the clubhouse for Album Art of the Year, thanks to sometime Phoenix illustrator (in the ’00s) Bob Smyth, whose intricate pieces have always made my mind race. The hot-pink-and-black big cat motif on the cover of Indiana is like Tron of the Jungle.

Smyth’s a multi-talented guy. He also happens to bang around on the drums for Purse, as he’s been doing here and there for more than a decade. Ginette Labonville is his long-time partner in crime, the other half of a guitar-drums two-piece that’s sometimes joined by bass in the live setting (producer Noah Defilippis plays bass on the record).

As far as I can figure, this new four-song EP is the first release they’ve had, the first digitized capture of their raw take on stripped-down metal and punk. Labonville has an interesting finger-style on the electric guitar that’s not totally obvious first listen, due to all the wash and general loudness. And Smyth ain’t exactly one to be gentle. Even when he’s being light on the high hat, he seems to smack it around a little bit.

It’s a sound built for, and built in, DIY spaces like basements and small clubs, where you can get right inside it and thrash around. In the headphones, it can be a bit claustrophobic, but that seems to be the point.

Labonville’s vocals are Geddy Lee in tone, but never trying to be that pretty. When she, in “22 mph Introvert,” decides to come down into something more mid-range, it’s to ask “what you gonna do, without love?” and it’s like being utterly dismissed.

By the song’s finish, it’s a lesson in shoegazer, a cross between Ocean and Belly — it can be catchy at times, but the guitar’s alternating notes bore into you and turn catchy into uncomfortable.

The David Camlin video for “Trading Places” is delightfully disturbing, and effectively captures the Purse aesthetic. It’s fun and harmless, but, man, isn’t the clown in those old Betty Boop videos just a little bit off? You might find yourself questioning whether you’re supposed to be enjoying this record quite so much. Purse, even when Labonville is cycling through some relatively technical stuff, still finish somewhere near whatever people mean by fevered.

Just like early Metallica, which they ape in the open to “Indiana.” Even if you don’t catch more than a tenth of the lyrics, you get the idea. This is music for people who generally find the upside in fever-induced hallucinations. Things are not normal in the Purse universe. And that’s the good part.

Indiana | Released by Purse | with Mouth Washington + Swarmlord + Electric Octopus | at SPACE, in Portland | May 31 | purse22.bandcamp.com/releases

| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SEVEN-MAN ARMY  |  July 24, 2014
    Lately, it’s been open season on “Wagon Wheel,” which has become the acoustic musician’s “Freebird,” one of the very few songs that people actually know well enough to find it funny to request.
  •   AMOS LIBBY'S FIVE WEEKS IN THE HEART OF THE CONFLICT  |  July 23, 2014
    "(Israeli) immigration asked me at the airport why I didn’t leave when I could have and I said it was because I felt safe. They told me I was nuts.”
  •   WHAT YOU SAY, RYAN?  |  July 16, 2014
    Ryan’s calling card is his sincerity. While the production and presentation are of a genre, you won’t find him talking about puffing the chron or dissing women or dropping a million f-bombs or using a bunch of contemporary rap jargon. He’s got a plan and he executes it, with more variety and modes of attack than he’s had on display to this point.
  •   BETTY CODY, 1921-2014  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine music community lost a hidden giant last week with the death of Betty Cody, at 92.
  •   ADVENTURES IN LO-FI  |  July 11, 2014
    One obvious reason for heavy music is catharsis, a healthy release for all the built-up bullshit modern life entails. Like kickboxing class for suburban women, but with lots of black clothing and long hair.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE