When I first heard Die! Die! Die! railing by the docks on a dingy summer someday evening with my lady friend and an overpriced big boy Dixie cup of Kelso, I thought for certain they would soon be riding high the crest of agitated American postpunk malfeasance to be the next big angular magnet for the rough children of Albini, grown bitter, thin and paranoid by too many years lost to the manhole.
But then Wire played “12XU” and “Lowdown” and the Kelso kept pouring and I kept swallowing and Jim Thirwell was there, sorta and all I ended up with the next day and for several, periodically remarkable, years after was “Remember that band that opened for Wire? They were pretty fucking good, right?”
And they were.
And fuckin’ a are they ever.
Granted what they are now is a far cry from the screeching lambast of that first encounter but being that I’ve spent the last few months in shallow depths of a Die! Die! Die! binge (life is strange that way) I can say safely that’s both totally expected and thoroughly fucking okay.
From what I can tell through my midnight searching, the band inched fast and steady from the wry wrecking ridge into the heart-wrung beast that forms the twelve robusts of S W I M and I am glad, man. Real glad. Because though there are so many shards of raging awls that pockmark the band’s beginnings (and I J’adore) S W I M reads like one long loving agitpop ether and I’ve been letting it play out over and over, in toto, for days now and it just keeps getting warmer and sharper and better at filling the cackles and fractures that lead a good man to throw dead leaves at a window, screaming incoherently in frustration at his powerlessness to make a good, old dog strong enough to take the stairs and her meds without assistance.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. SWIM is still an album that’s populated by all manner of ire and frothing but those tracks and their kin fall into the opaque prismatics of fuzz and tone, tenor and rhythm that shape the album’s unique aural theme and separates this release from the rest of the band’s canon (as did the immaculate and woefully underappreciated Harmony [which might be better, but whatever] and Form before it, etc.) just enough to make it thrilling to the D!D!D! devotee without shrifting the everyman fan all while providing any middling postmodern rock and roll manchild with a choice slab of unparalleled wax.