ALIEN SHE – FEELER ltd edition 12” Green Vinyl (Art For Blind Records 2018)

Alien She

This is the limited edition vinyl release of FEELER, an album that was technically launched in early December 2017. Some manner of sleeve manufacturing woe held the physical product to ransom, and in the interim, the digital release of this album was absorbed a great deal throughout the dusk of 2017. Anticipating that this was going to look as sharp and surly as it sounds, when the package finally arrived I was somewhat deflated to discover that, what had seemed like an online placeholder graphic/promo shot, was the actual cover… but more about that later…

Alien She’s palate for the debut is one of postpunk abrasion and residual gloom, and COLD BRAIN exemplifies this from the get-go with a rudimentary but effective scuffing of guitar dissonance. NO WAY OUT brings songwriting chops to the fore with thoughtful layers and flourishes of instrumentation. COVER THE HOLES amplifies the depressive side of the band and is punctuated by textures of noise that may have served the song by smothering the entire thing rather than sectioning it off. Upbeat and to the point, FEED ME offers a different tone with dream logic lyrics, superb vocals and something beyond the insular thematic drab elsewhere – This is arguably the album’s highlight. The noise is cranked up for GREY TOWN and a dual vocal mantra is utilised to great effect in trading lyrical gloom with playful disconnect. MEDICATING is a good example of where production ideas greatly benefit the basics, with a subtle stacking of voice and guitar layers in the second part of the song. SOLITARY is resolutely an 80’s gothic vignette – a few more synthetic frills and it would be every bit the descendant it suggests. Rounding the album off in style, DEATH SENTENCE drives the introversion out of the album’s lyrical exasperation and replaces it with something personal, topical, and a fighting spirit often absent elsewhere.

FEELER is very much a jangling clatter of tenacious guitar noise ( albeit not as noisy as it could be). It’s clear that the album works best when the raw ingredients are coloured with varying quantities synthesisers, feedback, dirt behind the fingernails, dual vocals and whatever else spices up the mix. Persistent in its loyalty to semi-clean yet brash shards, this is a convincing and perturbed debut…

…but…there’s no escaping the fact that album art is beyond just packaging of a product – It is part of the creative work… a statement of intent and/or discontent… a tribal identity… a symbiosis between noise and visual. Bands generally have art or graphic creatives in their immediate ranks or amongst their peers. There is no major difficulty in putting something together that screams “pick me”, so it’s a disappointment that this is wrapped in what, at best, looks like an inner sleeve. It presents itself as something that simply shrugs its shoulders and reminds me of the Velocity Girl promo CDs I used to receive yonks ago where either the art wasn’t ready or Sub Pop didn’t want to reveal it pre-release for whatever reason.

I don’t know what sequence of decisions led to this, why the record is insistently a boutique green vinyl release at the expense of presenting the album in a more creative manner, but it’s one regrettable factor that hangs over an otherwise spirited release.

Get it here…

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