As the saying goes, “everything old is new again.” This partially explains the glut of indie bands whose sounds are indebted to both the the fuzzy post-punk of the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine and the alternative sensibilities of the Pixies and Nirvana. For some reason, the Jersey suburbs of Bergen County have proven to be a particularly fertile ground for this type of music, giving us Vivian Girls, Real Estate and Ducktails. The most exciting new band to emerge out of this scene is Big Troubles.
Big Troubles make catchy noise pop that is not as dreary as their foreboding name and album title would suggest. Worry, released yesterday on Olde English Spelling Bee Records, is a hook-infested, fuzzed out collection of 14 songs that are heavy on nostalgia for 80s and 90s indie rock.
Throughout Worry, Ian Drennan and Alex Craig present songs that play bigger than the duo’s bedroom recordings should allow (the membership of the band doubles live). Waves of feedback and fuzz, artful guitar arpeggios, and basic surf rock rhythm tracks go hand-in-hand with reverbed vocal lines. “Freudian Slip” sounds like a Smashing Pumpkins B-side melted onto a JAMC tape, while “Drastic and Difficult” is just that: eardrum piercing squeals that barely give way to verse and chorus. The opening crunch of “Modern Intimacy” opens up into a wavy Beach Boys guitar line.
Both the song and video for “Bite Yr Tongue” find the band in their comfort zone. A soaring guitar riff repeats throughout a verse-chorus-verse composition, before turning into sonic chaos that is somehow still pleasant. For the synesthesic among us, the video looks how the song sounds: dissonant but playful.
Whatever the state of irony in 2010 underground culture, the band’s decision to start an Angelfire webpage (“The #1 site for teens… Best viewed in Netscape 2.0,” the scrolling text reads) is hilarious and telling. Underneath music that is superficially harsh and unforgiving, there is a flippant, youthful attitude. It’ll serve Big Troubles well as they try to give some shine to a well-worn stone.