I have to admit I’d never heard of Disappears before this record landed in my lap, so I looked them up online. (Research, see? Professionalism and that. That’s what seperates us real professional music writer types from the blogroll masses.) A noisy Chicago four-piece, refugees from the sad decline of Touch and Go records, Disappears have found an unlikely home for themselves at glitch-(and drone – Ed.)-merchants Kranky. On their myspace the band list their influences as “Reverb Delay Drums Heavy Tremolo Feedback Guitars Repetition”, and say they sound like “Reverb Delay Drums Heavy Tremolo Feedback Guitars Repetition”. Heh, awesome. They also sell 7″ singles and RANT IN ALL CAPS on their blog.
Lux is the band’s first album, and there’s not an inch of fat on this record. Lux is a taut, urgent love letter, a 29-minute homage to everything that rules about garage rock. Minimal drumbeats and offhand vocals are half-buried in blissed-out vintage guitar fuzz and trembling, soaring reverb. The guitars are nonetheless kept on a very short leash, the three-minute track lengths calling an abrupt halt to what in other hands could have been some wicked heavy psych/surf guitar freakouts. But that’s all part of Disappears’ cool. They craft awesome hook-laden guitar lines, only to discard the whole mess a minute or so later. Cos, y’know, whatever. There’ll be another awesome guitar hook next track, forget about it, man.
You could go through this album song-by-song and pick out the band’s influences, obvious as they are – as a record collector’s band, Disappears have got to rank alongside the likes of Yo La Tengo. But unlike Yo La Tengo, Disappears don’t sound like music nerds. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Yo La Tengo – I’ve seen them play loads of times and they’re always great, but they’re definitely nerds). Disappears are cool. They’ve adopted at least some of the attitude of their musical influences along with their sound. You know that bored, solicitous monotone Iggy Pop does so well? The way he can say “we will have a real cool time, tonight” and something in his deadpan tells you that this man knows exactly what he’s talking about? That’s on this record. There’s also a ton of the Velvet Underground‘s sunglasses-after-dark sangfroid, the intangible menace of Suicide‘s first album… I could go on. I wish I’d heard this album when I was 12 years old, I could have learnt as much about rock’n’roll in 29 minutes as I did in four or five years of hanging out in mediocre record stores.
It would be a fair criticism to say that there’s nothing new on this record. But then, it would also be a fair criticism to say that new stuff all sucks. Everything on Lux has been done before, but damned if if this familiar old garage rock material doesn’t still sound awesome. Especially presented the way it is here, stripped back, dressed in black, lean and dangerous. Put this album on and crank it loud – take half an hour of your life that you were probably going to waste watching Friends or something, and remind yourself why you love rock’n’roll.