Snake - Rocket Science (IT Records)
Allowing for a near death experience and a lengthy hiatus, they’ve been around for 20 years. It’s been more than a decade since their last album. So does Rocket Science still matter? Yes.
“Snake” is their fifth long-player and in the genre classification stakes, Rocket Science is still playing hard to get. Psych-rock? Post-punk garage rock? Trashy new wave? Whatever you want to label them, go right ahead, it’s probably fine by them. The one thing we can all agree on is that “Snake” is one very dark hombre of an album.
Dark, you say? Whatever do you mean? It is hard to out a finger on. It doesn't have to be explicitly stated in the lyrics or through minor chords. In the case of "Snake", it's a mood thing and very much a sum of the band's parts.
The record does have its light moments; “Chasing Rainbows” is a jaunty opener with a slightly ropey (and very human) feel and some Yardbirdian freak-out crunch. “Cheers Pinger” is good, clean illicit fun. At other times, “Snake” is so far removed from the rampant garage ride that was “Welcome Aboard the 3C10” to sound like another band.
As you'd expect. NO band worth its salt stands still for long. Roman Tucker’s organ is prominent and that engine room of Kit Warhurst and Dave Gray still kicks harder than the comedown from a two-day bender. Paul Maybury's spiky guitar jumps out for emphasis in all the right places.
The title track is wound tighter than a rat trap's spring. The martial instrumental "Scorpio's Gamble" is a prime slice of moody Krautrock. "Scorpio's Dilemma" (presumably its companion piece) is ethereal in comparison with a light, playful Warhurst drum feel. Scuzzy rocker "I Hate Hate" sounds like it would get the blood/beer pumping in a live setting.
Lead digital single "Lipstick Red" rides a slinky bass-line and puffs of smokey guitar and dissonant keyboard but sounds a trifle underdone.
"Dark Corridors" should raise a smile when you hear it's stolen a little of its DNA from Devo. Until you find out it's a Roman Tucker reflection on his recovery from his serious brain injury. And "Curve Of Your Back" is a piece of absurdist dissonance.
It was self produced at Paul Maybury's Melbourne studio and mastered by maestro Jim Diamond - so you know it sounds great, Its charms may not be immediately obvious, but "Snake" demands attention