3 out of 5
Label: Skin Graft
Produced by: Arlen Thomson (recorded by)
Even on their debut, I have to double check to make sure AIDS Wolf isn’t another moniker for or off-shoot of Arab On Radar. I’m still puzzled that this comparison doesn’t come up more often when I reads bios or reviews: Chloe Lum’s shriek’s often sound like Aaron Paul’s (though there’s something slightly more unhinged and less snide / sinister to Lum’s punked out approach), and the bass / drums / guitar rhythm section loves its single note hammering and drilling percussion, a la AOR. But there are differences, particularly in AIDS Wolf’s penchant for all out noise, whether of the extended blitz variety, or more concise, minute-long versions of that. Still, I cannot not hear Arab in the group’s DNA.
Later albums this wouldn’t be more than a momentary distraction, though, with the material becoming its own beast – fully incensed, and maybe still sounding like AOR, but like stuff that band couldn’t stay insane long enough to write. On Lovvers, AW’s first full album, we’re not there yet: the first few tracks are more in line with the group’s proud claims of being obnoxious and pretentious; whether they’d heard Arab or not (and they must’ve), it sounds like an eager group of kids doing an impression. A solid, promising impression, but nonetheless.
A few tracks in – starting vaguely with a swooping bass / guitar line on We Multiply – the group starts to dig out a bit of identity, playing off the no-wave concept a tad. This comes into full-force with The Hat Collector; still noisy as shit, but going against the grain by having an ebb and flow structure. It’s a fantastic song. Lovvers sticks with this more “song”-like approach through the excellent Vampire King and Panty Mind, before resorting back to pure AOR stylings on Opposing Walls.
The entire B-side is saved for a noise workout: the 11-minute Some Sexual Drawings. It’s not as widespread as the assault later committed on their split with Athletic Automaton, but it is, again, very promising stuff, and showing how and where the group could draw the line between their style and that of their peers.