Discerning music aficionados might not have very high expectations of a group that impoliticly chooses to christen itself Sex Positions. Thankfully, the band quickly overcomes its hurdle of a name on their Deathwish Inc. debut, a unique recording uniting straightforward, 4/4 hardcore punk rock with a bevy of influences, all of which mesh into a unified, trendsetting whole.
The leadoff track, "Commit It," immediately sets out to prove, and does successfully, natch, that this will be a recording that raises the bar for its future competition. Through various filters and digital processing effects, the song, which could have ended up sounding mundane under different circumstances, grabs the listener's ear canals and sadistically ropes them together into a knot. This trend continues throughout the duration of the recording, and to great success.
Producers Kurt Ballou (who also recorded the album and hails from posterboy hardcore band Converge), Larry Anzuoni, and Eric Marcelino all clearly put in a goodly amount of time at the boards and their effort is easily recognizable. While three producers might seem excessive for a hardcore record, the trio transforms a familiar sound into an unprecedented recording. The plethora of production anomalies on Sex Positions, like the overly distorted bass jam on "Aphrodite Dear" and the jarring introductory bleep on "Sleeping," all add up to create a record that anyone interested in innovative hardcore music should enjoy delving into. Judiciously distributed stereo washes and wisely placed tracks also make for great headphone listening. And, on the simplest level, Sex Positions writes wonderfully driving rock.
The recording's only real weak point is the rather unvaried vocals, which, thankfully, get a fair amount of slicing and dicing via the aforementioned production team. The untitled instrumental interlude, normally a throwaway space-filler on hardcore albums, actually serves as a welcome oasis from the breakneck speed of the proceeding six tracks, and a breather before the last four. The vibrant layout for the CD, as handled by another member of Converge, vocalist Jake Bannon, is simple but amazingly effective, much like his work on recent efforts from Every Time I Die and Some Girls.
Sex Positions offers up one of the most carefully constructed overall packages in recent hardcore genealogy. Between incomparable production, a unique visual flare, and well-written, if not entirely original, songs, the band shows immense promise for their future releases. It will be rewarding to have gotten in on the ground floor.
1. Commit It
2. You'd Better Start Running
3. Worse than the Plague
4. Aphrodite Dear
5. Doors Are Harder to Slam in the Summer
8. The dead Lay Very Still
9. Heroes of the Novel
10. We Already Went Over This