Pre Hope Freaks

[Skin Graft; 2009]

Styles: noise rock, post-hardcore, no wave
Others: AIDS Wolf, Comanechi

There’s a bit of street art in Berlin that simply reads “Do Shit.” While it’s unlikely that Pre have ever seen this graffiti, Hope Freaks could easily be the product of that command. A mess of irresistibly propulsive noise rock that offers no justification, it seemingly exists entirely for its own sake and nothing more — and here, that’s enough. The band crafts a frenzy of sound that finds absurdity in everything it encounters. And so, when the confoundingly-named vocalist Exceedingly Good Keex shrieks “I wanna feel your junk/ This sunny day” or declares “I wanna be your new best pal,” we’re not expected to empathize with her desperate desire for human connection or to laugh at her childishness. Among the band’s car-crash new-wave basslines and constant atonal assaults, her lyrical preoccupation with sex and lust in their most basic forms suggests that she’s simply reveling in the pursuit of raw urges.

If Pre are worried about anything in particular — and it doesn’t seem likely — it’s letting that gut-level thrill die. With most tracks clocking under two minutes (and the album itself clocking in at fewer than 20), Hope Freaks is impeccably concise, as though recognizing that at any greater length it might not be able to sustain its continual in-the-red urgency, that the thrill might lessen. Leaping from one hyper-distorted grind to the next once things threaten to fall apart, the album constantly sounds like it’s on the verge of collapse -- but none of the track actually devolve into the outright mess of noise that each seem driven toward. But Pre remain remarkably nimble, occasionally flashing moments of lightning-fast synchronized staccato passages, as if to suggest that the band's perpetual flirtation with collapse is by choice. It’s no surprise that Pre excel in live settings, hurling themselves at one another and the audience as though they need the added danger of literal physical collapse to maintain the energy they thrive on.

This all contributes to a sense that Pre don’t really care that much about each other or their audience, and that’s a big part of their appeal. The aptly-titled “Not Necessary” is simply a single short phrase repeated endlessly, threatening to explode but never quite reaching that point, as if the the band couldn’t be bothered to more fully flesh out the song. And yet it works, picking up where the fuck-you ethos of punk left off while moving into more abstracted territory. Unable to maintain punk's explicitly political concerns, they instead focus solely on the giddy release of sweaty bodies between the sheets or at beer-stained basement shows. Savagely reducing everything it encounters to its most basic forms, Hope Freaks is a desperately cynical album that nevertheless contains some of the most electrifying noise rock released this year.

1. Gang of Wire
2. Haircut, Tacos
3. The Junk
4. Why Be Wives
5. Teenage Lakes
6. Not Neccessary
7. Love Crunch
9. Hope Freaks
10. New Prints
11. Sleep Weak

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