It packs an impressive amount of punk punch into just seven and a half minutes.
Sharkmuffin – 1097 EP
As of April 2013, Sharkmuffin were kind of like the Dr. Octagon of the garage rock, noise pop, and lo-fi scenes. Their She-Gods of Champagne Valley EP they released that month showcased Tarra Thiessen singing about hilariously disturbing topics including heroin-addled fembots, mermaid sex slaves, and teenage incest, while backed by some of Brooklyn’s raunchiest, gloriously messy power chords and percussion. It’s surprising and admirable, then, that the band makes some small steps towards the more personal and down-to-earth on their 1097 EP, which packs an impressive amount of punk punch into just seven and a half minutes.
Sharkmuffin’s move towards lyrical realism isn’t entirely unprecedented: “The Lake”, from their self-titled debut, seems to be about losing a friend to addiction. It’s a song about someone else’s struggles, which makes the reflective lyricism ending 1097‘s final track, and thus the whole EP, a bit less surprising. This track, “Soft Landing”, sees Thiessen turning her gaze inward, lamenting “Oh, but I always break/this feels like a mistake,” during the song’s last fifty seconds, her voice becoming increasingly fanged and searing as she repeats the phrase. Opening track “Foul Play” addresses an impromptu lover’s lack of confidence: “But you don’t know how you’ll ever be good enough/if you’ll ever be good enough,” Thiessen muses over slamming guitars, pounding percussion, and bleating bass.
“Foul Play” also shows that Sharkmuffin haven’t gone entirely serious yet. “We wed in the parking lot/we share the same name now” is a statement of youthful spontaneity, a memory not terribly different than a sudden elopement in Las Vegas. The searing noise tune “TEN TEN”, which consists entirely of the lyrics “TEN TEN!” shrieked, howled, and bellowed, both at different times and simultaneously, is another statement of unrestricted explosion and glee, its degradation into unnerving feedback and static sounding like a massive middle finger to anyone at all.
Of course, Sharkmuffin aren’t nearly the first band to use noise and volume to convey their art. Even at their young age, though, they’ve already moved well out of the shadows of their progenitors; their unique combination of caustic guitars, rattling percussion, and wobbly, haunting vocals are their own unique stamp. They’re continuing the traditions of their scene without sounding derivative, and they’re sure as hell having a lot of fun doing it. What more can you ask for?