Review: Chromatics

“Plaster Hounds”

When I first saw the black and white cover and the GSL logo on the back, I thought it looked like a classic punk re-issue. After listening, I wouldn’t have any trouble convincingly deceiving someone into believing it had been originally released something like 25 years ago.

On their second full length the Chromatics aren’t blowing any doors down with originality. They’ve gone from a four piece, to a duo, to their current configuration as a three piece. There is only one remaining original member, Adam Miller (The Vogue, Soiled Doves), he wisely called upon the rhythmic expertise of Ron Avila (Get Hustle, Holy Molar, Antioch Arrow, Final Conflict) to round out the line up on percussion. The result is a dark and driving minimalist dub-punk departure from the more caustic and danceable first album, “Chrome Rats vs. Basement Rutz.”

There is more than just a nod to their influences, which include Wire, Suicide, and the Silver Apples. They actually end the album with a cover of Silver Apples “Program” which was originally released in 1968. The second and fourth tracks, “Garden,” and “Three Hearts (WASP)” are the closest they get to signifying their membersÂ’ past punk exploits.

Listening to Plaster Hounds is like taking a long drunk walk home. Your feet just keep plodding forward, until before you know it, you are home passed out face down with your shoes on. You never get a chance to make sense of your indecipherable, seemingly deep inner monologue. In much the same way the rhythm section is great, it relentlessly drives forward. However there’s not much in the melody, lyrical coherence, or contour depts. It’s just dark and flat, and it’s over without you really having to understand it.