Abe Vigoda - Reviver EP Review

You may be alarmed by the entrance of Reviver. Atypical of Skeleton, we arrive amid a wash of no wave fuzz, creeping rhythms that gurgle in the bathtub and a haunting, disembodied croon that wants to soften the blow of damnation. It sounds like a razor mix of Bowie's early Berlin period (even the voice). So much for the frantic sweat of Abe Vigoda's last release.


They lurch ahead a couple of years to Joy Division's final months on “Wild Heart” (a Stevie Nicks cover). Discontent to merely translate it to the experimental rock crowd, they give it an appealing body of glitchcore blips amid a tour guide of faint guitar clicks. Over that they layer grimy distortion that feel like storm clouds tracing across the darkening skies. Michael Vidal sounds less like Bowie here and more like Magnetic Fields' Stephen Merritt. And at almost six minutes, it's more than twice as long as any song you've come to expect from the band. It's a cover that sounds nothing like the original...and even less like the Abe Vigoda we knew from Skeleton.


“Endless Sleeper” is even more out of place, like a segue that wandered in from a recording by Women, Deerhunter or Dirty Projectors. It's post-rock meets shoegaze, and although it lasts less than two minutes, it still serves as an important epilogue to what preceded it. That song, “House,” is what fans might call comfort food. It's darker and dirtier, and could only be referred to as a tired uncle to the itchy kids of their last, but the bloodline is strong. Over a 7/4 rhythm, chiming guitar plucks make up the hook while echoes lead us into a series of gauzy breakdowns. But the rhythm is unmistakable, fumbling spastically with anxiety until the final third when all pretense collapses into a trope of clean chords buried under furry feedback.


What makes “The Reaper” such a fitting finish, then, is that it incorporates all of what came before it into one song. The somberness, the stains, the panic, the complacency: all of it slapped across the arrangement with entire disregard for how it might end up sounding. Maybe this comes from a band angry to be constantly overwritten by the achievements of No Age. Skeleton aimed for uniqueness, but instead the band was just compared to their fellow Smell grads (or, even more often, Vampire Weekend).


So does this signal some kind of an audio-print press release from the group? A promise to be better than even their fans thought they could be? If nothing else, it proves that they're not content to regurgitate more of the same on their next full-length. What they lack in singularity and flawless record, they make up for in ambition, integration and talent. It seems unlikely that this is merely a collection of songs unfinished or ill-fitting from Skeleton sessions. Like another great EP from earlier this year (Blood Bank), this declares that you ain't seen nothing yet.


"Reviver EP" is on sale February 17, 2009 from Post Present Medium.

Matt Medlock


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