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PC Worship are a few chromosomes shy of their own DNA strand. But the NYC band’s shakiness has long been key to their shredded charm. Since 2009, frontman Justin Frye has led shifting lineups through genre calisthenics rigorous enough that their repertoire encompasses way-out freak-flag jams, garage punk shimmy, and a Fraggle Rock cover, among other oddities. PC Worship stumble and shamble the way collectives like Harlem’s No-Neck Blues Band or Finland’s Avarus might if Captain Beefheart were sitting in. The PC Worship Experience is uncertain, splintered, alive, and never lacking in bristling forward momentum.
This makes the first song on Buried Wish a bit of a head-scratcher. No-tempo “Lifeless Rain on an Empty Moon” rubs together brass drones at peculiar angles before a zig-zagging sample burst. It’s tranquil, if uneasily so. Revisit the opening cuts from 2013’s Beat Punk, 2014’s Social Rust, or 2015’s Basement Hysteria—this is a sedate starting-point for PC Worship, signaling Frye’s move towards a more spacious sound.
Buried Wish does find moments to rollick. Stoner metal dirge “Back of My $$$” crawls forward like lava under the weight of gnashing guitars. Grease fire psychedelia and 1980s Lower East Side scum-rock collide on the sneering, accessible “Blank Touch.” Almost everywhere else here, though, the band embraces the spare or the stripped back.“Tranq,” a piano curio that morphs into a pummeling krautrock interlude, achieves the effect of its title.
The title track gently hoists a sitar-like frequency higher and higher up into the stratosphere before allowing it to plummet back down to earth in a storm of effects. Vertiginously anemic, the delirious “Help” thumbtacks atonal string whinny with spoken word. “Torched” carpets spindled guitars with constantly erupting drum rolls, like Standards-era Tortoise sound-checking. The cumulative tone at work here—aided by sharp production and stark arrangements—is one of calm, wary digression.
“Perched on the Wall” and “Flowers & Haunting” mark Buried Wish’s most radical departures, foregrounding Frye’s weary, blunt voice. Stung by glancing electric blues riffs, “Perched” stumbles and lurches languidly, a dazed quest for meaning that may or may not be there to be found. “Flowers & Hunting” strands Frye with an acoustic guitar and a pedestrian field recording to plaintively string together one daft couplet after another: “Unfortunate, and pleading/Incapable of breathing/Enraged and retreating.” The words mumble and tumble out, honest and pure in a way that mirrors, if inversely, his band’s splayed-tone. On the darkest of days, they’ll bear repeating.Share