Finally, Vulpynes returns with a second EP of primal snarl and noisy passion. Apparently these tracks have been sitting on the hotplate since late 2018 – meanwhile the band busied itself with heavy gigging activity and playing the industry game a little before arriving at the conclusion that the resolutely non-industry homestead of FOAD records was as good a base as any to function from. This is a move that puts the band in the solid current company of The Lee Harveys and Paranoid Visions, as well as historically alongside the more dubious and somewhat forgotten and feckless archival ranks of Arnheim, Ciúnas, Stigmatamartyr and SMH!
…But that’s all very ancient data in grassroots guitar noise terms and a very dodgy wormhole to be going down…
I’ve been curious about how things would unfold for Vulpynes – The debut on Headcheck Records was a mighty start, but there was always a lingering concern that something in formative creativity might be lost in the event that the band skipped over the bit where it left a healthy independent footprint first. Recorded history presents a fairly solid case that independent releases are generally the most creative and durable chunks of any noisy discography.
It’s also interesting to observe the band working to expand it’s sound within, around or beyond what might be perceived as the constraints of a two-piece format. There’s certainly a vast sonic space to work with, regardless of whether you’re the P-Funk All-Stars or Atom and His Package, so traditional viewpoint on what constitutes a ‘band’ is somewhat redundant… moving forward, It’s simply a case of how Vulpynes rises to the creative task it sets itself.
At this point an album would have been preferable, and a better indication of the scope of this band – Vulpynes second EP is a mere 4 tracks – Ultimately we get what we’re given, like it or lump it.
On side one of the record, BITCHES ARE LIKE WAVES kicks in and a jump in production is immediately apparent. This doesn’t necessarily tame the spirit and gnarl of the group’s charismatic debut, but a slick rock/punk element is now at the fore where previously a noisy garage stomp defined the sound. Also pushing this sonic shift is the fact that BITCHES ARE LIKE WAVES plays it relatively straight with focus on songwriting chops and a wall of layered guitars rather than swaggering riffs and licks, but it’s a good start and the venom is strong with this one…
Due to it being buried somewhere in my head from the live set, I CAN’T SIT STILL already seems very familiar. At the very start, there’s a taste of how various flavours of nasty guitar are blended underneath, and as the track does its thing the raw scratchy undertow is a fine contrast to big rock drum clarity and the fidgety lyrical paranoia of it all.
Side two sees a notable stylistic shift on IT WASHES OUT. Not much concerned with following the robust wall of punk rock that preceded it, this is a defiant and boisterous garage-y fuzz of indignation. Structurally, it’s undoubtedly most ambitious piece of songwriting and the highlight of the record.
Rounding things off, THE HUNT draws a long feedback intro over rolling drums and descends into a swampy and grinding trudge. Of all the tracks here, this bears the most similarity to the tone of the debut.
For all intents and purposes, this is a record that presents 2 sides to the band. Side one hints at how Vulpynes might work within commercially minded rock production and side two is more wigged out and gritty. Although four new tracks over 14 minutes is all we get at this point, what’s presented leaves deep territorial claw marks and demonstrates impressive noise-mongering for a band with so few working components. Many bands twice or three times the size would stumble and crack their stupid teeth off the challenge!
And while we wait impatiently for the debut album itch to be scratched, the question remains, is this enigmatically presented 10” a red record etched in acid or a clear record dipped in hammer-horror blood?