Reviews

Business Casual

Author: Sarah Peters
08/27/2004 | Lost at Sea | www.lostatsea.net | Album Review
I love art punk, but I fear it in person. This makes me a coward, I know, but most of these performances function from a lack of respect for mutual comfort. Frankly, this disturbs me.

If a man in a feather boa and a flame-retardant vest insists on forcefully pulling out my earplugs to scream lyrics in my ear, I would politely decline. "Please step out of my bubble," I would protest; my pleas for personal space inaudible under the noise.

I don't do stage fights. Sure, I love Darby Crash and Tim Harrington as much as the next music aficionado, but I do so from afar, thankyouverymuch.

Beep Beep seems like a band that would make me uncomfortable, from their very sound. Business Casual, despite its close connection to the Faint, is not a simple dance party in any respect. It is brutal, anguished and unapologetically rough on the ears, while at the same time immediately addictive.

The yelps of art rock past and hardcore present find their way through the shifting, post-Brainiac dance beats. Business Casual is ambitious, and has the makings of a great album even if it's not immediately easy to absorb.

It's helpful to keep it in the context of Q and Not U, said parallel Brainiac, and even Wire. It springs from the context of old Wild Child documentaries, where the subject is unleashed from his cellar into the open spaces of a terrified scientific gaze. Those in lab coats shake their heads at the crazed behavior that must have come from a lifetime of neglect, but for the child, it feels like freedom. Business Casual echoes a similar freedom, foaming at the mouth.

Most of its trademarks are present throughout the album, never stopping for a moment to breathe: angular textures, tricky time signatures, breakneck speed, yowling vocals and well-documented psychotic tendencies. Of this mixture, the most interesting feature remains the instrumentalism of the album; while constantly abrasive, it feels eager and vital, even incorporating elements of softer melody, at times, to lure the listener in. In fact, their post-rock chops are so competent, the tracks could easily stand on their own as a solely instrumental album.

Add to this, then, the hiccups of anguished noise from frontmen Chris Hughes and Eric Bemberger, and you have a startlingly fierce concoction. It seems they are looking to equate madness with greatness; it also seems they've largely succeeded.

"Oh, No!" and "The Flourescent Lights" are fast favorites of Business Casual, the latter almost sobbing with insanity over kinetic, tumbling beats. The last two tracks, "Vertical Cougar" and "The Threat of Nature," in comparison, motion to a quick sophomore follow-up: their style is decidedly more experimental. The end of the album winds to a distorted downbeat, exercising epic tendencies and peculiar recording techniques.

Just as the peak of Pink Flag oversaw the climb to Chairs Missing, it seems we have a brief glimpse of an evolving, inventive future. Truth be told, I never thought I'd be making that comparison; the fact it is so fitting comes as both a surprise and a high compliment. I like the way these guys think, but I still don't want to get too close...

Business Casual

Business Casual

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Business Casual

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