The Unit Breed – [LP]

Wednesday, 05 October 2011

Over the last couple of decades (pretty much since LPs began to lose ground in popularity to cassettes, and then even more so when CDs came along), the process of a band creating an involving “experience” for listeners to enjoy has really fallen from favor. Where once tremendous care and thought were put into album artwork (like the stuff that Storm Thorgerson did for Pink Floyd) and lithographs of lyric sheets, now the act of assembling an album seems terribly rushed. For those who didn't notice, look at the difference between, say, the cover of Led Zeppelin's Houses Of The Holy or even that of NOFX' Cokie The Clown seven-inch and Yuck's self-titled album – the cover of which looks as though it was scribbled with a ballpoint pen – or NOFX' untitled ten-inch release which doesn't even have a cover; these later ones just look rushed and/or slopped off.

These sorts of alterations to the norm call into question what value a band may place on its product. Is the mass production of music where the music business is headed again? That place where the fact that a product is “now available” trumps the enjoyment a listener may get from experiencing it?

The questions of quality and presentation continue to loom but, with the release of Always Distance The Lonely, The Unit Breed has asserted that the abandonment of artistry and the care put into the presentation of music won't be happening on their watch. Before a note is heard from the band on the record, potential listeners are treated to an enormous book of meticulously reproduced paintings included as a liner note book to give them an idea of what's coming. The artwork is dizzying and unsettling material which may cause worry in some who see it but, stacked against the images include with so many other albums lately, it will also inspire curiosity because there's just nothing else like it.

From the moment the record opens, listeners will happily discover that they weren't mislead by their first impressions of Always Distance The Lonely at all. After some disjointed vocal samples trail their way through the beginning of “Living In Comfortable,” a lilting and delirious guitar line adds a dark and foreboding tone to the proceedings which is complimented perfectly by Joseph Demaree's understated, maniacal vocal monotone. The effect is chilling to be sure, but listeners will find themselves drawn in, darkly by the sounds as the pall created by “Living In Comfortable” bleeds into the album title track which follows it, and then gets positively diabolical on “Anything For Free.” Through those tracks, a pattern takes hold; each step of the way through them (and through the rest of the album too), listeners keep expecting the coiling danger and menace they can so clearly hear in the music to explode forth and consume them in some sort of ecstatic frenzy, but it never does. Here, the darkness remains tightly contained for the audience's listening pleasure, and The Unit Breed is never turned off the leash to wreak havoc – not really. That phenomenal tease is the hook which will pull listeners through Always Distance The Lonely as the band digs its way way along; the promise that all hell is going to break loose at any moment is tempting to watch. It never happens, of course, but even as “That's The Way It Goes” sputters to a close and finishes out the record, listeners keep waiting and hoping for something bad to happen.

It's debatable if The Unit Breed will be able to continue on for a follow-up as they did on Always Distance The Lonely. As with anything, the tease has to crack and give way to some kind of resolution to make the effort spent following along worthwhile for listeners but, even so, it did sustain the band through this album and will leave those who came along here wondering what will come next because this was a pretty cool, interesting experience.



Always Distance The Lonely
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.