Impractical Cockpit To Be Treated

[Load; 2006]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: art-damaged rock, post-hardcore, noise rock
Others: Liars, Big Black, Lightning Bolt

Former New Orleans residents Impractical Cockpit have milled around the DIY circuit for the better part of a decade, documenting their progress with a series of low-run LPs. To Be Treated — their first CD — finds them exorcising ambitions that demand a space much broader than an impromptu basement gig or an obscure slab of wax, rivaling the Fort Thunder set's now mythic post-hardcore pretensions.

Pretension ain't a bad thing, of course, when you can actually make good on your pretext, but Impractical Cockpit more often than not bite off more than they can chew. Like so many third- and fourth-tier contemporary art-punk acts, these fellas can't seem to operate outside of pop music's oppressive shadow. Just when they've launched into full-on thrash mode, the same strained half-sung, half-screamed vocals that we've heard on a cutout bin full of other garbage rock songs belts out a half-assed melody that's too laconic and apathetic to summon holy terror and too coarse to act as an eye in the storm. I can't say whether the band is attempting to subvert the pop song or expand its territory in these moments, but on either count they come up short. Songs striving to challenge and disarm instead grate and smack of insincerity. Too preoccupied with pop to abandon it but too skeptical of it to take convincing stabs at conventional song form, Impractical Cockpit wilt. A couple of transcendent glimmers — the Syd Barrett-ish double-tracked vocals and forest fuzz in the middle of "Passion of a Cop," the cinematic menace of "Creeping Giant" — exist outside of this played-out pop/antipop dialectic and the conventions of the album's genre, vibrating on wavelengths that most of the album doesn't. These brief flashes of brilliance offer a nice reprieve from To Be Treated's pervasive sense of ambivalence.

1. Furrowed Frow
2. Passion of a Cop
3. No More
4. Strobelight
5. Grails
6. Golden Garden
7. Creeping Giant
8. Lat:: North 41-53-0
Long: West 70-45-46
9. Where the Nagras Bloom
10. Soothing David