Music This Week: Cost of Dying


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Get assembly election result LIVE updates from each constituency in Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya Vundabar tears its way through 10 riveting rock songs on Smell Smoke, beginning with Acetone. “God bless the frankness of Franklin the thief,” he sighs before concluding that at least American corruption is transparent. 2018-03-03T01:54:08+00:00″>
Published: March 3, 2018 1:54 am

From their frivolously chosen band name to a comparison of songwriting and “healthy bowel movements”, Boston’s Vundabar is a ceaselessly jovial band. Oftentimes, we are only contemplating the cost of living, but in Smell Smoke, Vundabar reconcile the ironies and pain when dealing with the cost of death. Diver reminds me of a phrase I use to describe my worst days — underwater days — with anguish-inducing lines like, “I am a diver ’cause I couldn’t take the air.” Immediately after these moments Vundabar is back to the same twisting, jittery rock sound. Its instrumentation carried out by Hagen, assisted by drummer Drew McDonald and bassist Grayson Kirtland, emphasises lyrical complexity and vocal bungee jumping. The initial dredging whine of guitars transforms from a finger plucking tiptoe into a distorted sprint during the final three minutes. Over labyrinthine melodies and punching distortion, Vundabar thread existential thoughts, fears, and anxieties into their latest album Smell Smoke. Big Funny takes jabs at the cost of healthcare, particularly in a country where there seems to be complete lack of respect for the idea of health itself. Tar Tongue is light and colourful, like stained-glass windows, and feels exhausted after ripping through the first two songs. It is cathartic and incredibly vulnerable; the guitar screeches behind resonating bass lines and tight drums as frontman Brandon Hagen croons — or shouts — intensely heartbreaking lyrics on top of it all. The third album grew from frontman Brandon Hagen’s intimate, four-year experience of taking care of a loved one in declining health. Smell Smoke is dynamic and riveting, a guitar-forward mosaic that pieces jagged edges of art rock, math rock, punk rock, and pop together. Even when their latest album deals with the morbid, they insist that “it’s supposed to be fun,” further adding, “please have fun”. That counts for something, right? $$$ is a sassy, hard rock reaction to monetary leverage. From their frivolously chosen band name to a comparison of songwriting and “healthy bowel movements”, Boston’s Vundabar is a ceaselessly jovial band. By doing so, the restless indie rock band illustrate that, for better or worse, there is no singular way to deal with illness and death. Its inevitability and lingering irrationality feel at odds with capitalism and its American dream. Bright chords and melancholy lyrics pose a stark contrast on this track as well as nearly every other, and it’s like a cool spring day with sunshine and rain at the same time; between pretty melodies and heavy-handed guitar, there’s something about this album that makes my chest ache the way it does after I’ve been crying. His songwriting explores the limiting corporeality of being human, the materialism that ostensibly adds value to life, and the abjection that’s a consequence of both. “There’s nothing that’s poetic about a bedsore,” Hagen asserts on the opening of Harvest, before descending into a scene about flies feasting on aged fruits’ rotting flesh. Vundabar, Smell Smoke
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Vundabar’s Smell Smoke, out February 23, is addictively dark post-punk. Lead single Acetone reckons with repressed emotions that fractures the self and come back with legs of their own. With sticky melodies that needle their way into your brain and nearly-chaotic guitar riffs, there’s a grunginess and a melancholy energy on each cathartic track that leaves you wanting more. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of tenderness buried among the gritty post-punk music, however. Hagen’s tone is jaded, complimenting the unrelinquishable power of the man fronting the hundred dollar bill.