I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays Russian Baths over the past couple of years, and as you may recall the act — Luke Koz, Jess Ress, Evan Gill Smith and Jeff Widner — received attention both locally and elsewhere for a sound that has been described by the band and by some critics as nodding at Big Black, 70s space rock, Big Muff and British post punk. Although with the release of their debut EP Penance, an effort that featured singes like “What’s In Your Basement,” “Slenderman” and “Poolhouse,” the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays — to my ears, at least — established a reputation for crafting a brooding 120 Minutes-era alt rock-like sound.
Slated for release later this year, Russian Baths’ forthcoming debut finds them pushing their sound — a sound centered around juxtapositions to its most extreme, as feedback and dissonance manage to swallow softly whispered harmonies; arpeggiated synths and booming 808s are paired with angular, shrieking guitars and propulsive drumming. Thematically the material touches upon personal regret, cultural guilt, reflections and observations on systems on the verge of collapse and a growing sense of unease and anxiety. The album’s first single “Parasite” was a decidedly muscular and grunge-like single that brought Nirvana, The Breeders and others to mind — but while evoking someone on the verge of destroying themselves.
“Tracks,” the forthcoming album’s latest single is an an aggressively abrasive song that’s one part shoegaze, one part post-punk, one part noise rock and one part grunge, as fuzzy and distorted power chords are paired with thunderous drumming and plaintive, falsetto vocals. And while being one of the most feral and mosh pit friendly songs they’ve released in their growing catalog, the song finds the band asking some important questions. “If a friend takes something very personal, very private from you, do you forgive them? If you see someone’s worst self, how do you react? Would you choose yourself to be yourself? Is self respect something you feel because you’re good or does self-respect make you good?” The band says in press notes. As a result, the song possesses the uneasy, claustrophobic air of paranoia and distrust.