Could hope be said to only incur pain? Granted, it’s rarely fulfilled as we’d so optimistically wish for it to be, but I’d counter that only the hopeless know true pain. And Hope Only Brings Pain certainly makes for a discombobulating title to slap on the sophomore recording from Barcelona pairing, The Suicide of Western Culture. Their native city itself is one that, to the visiting alien, reeks of a painfully transparent positivity: it’s bathed in luminescence for at least six months of the year; sits beside the seaside; and boasts two of mainland Europe’s most estimable festivals, to in turn find itself transmogrified into a kind of hedonist’s Elysium for around one of those six months aforesaid. Yes, it must be painful to see the hordes descend dilated of pupil and very literally vomitous of disposition, though the invasion is only transitory. Few could surely afford to extend their stays anyway, such is the lavish indulgence both of Primavera Sound and Sónar alike though exemplary as these Mediterranean getaways may be, both trend in quietly disquietingly international line ups to somewhat neglect their own natural produce. Slowly; surely however, the tide is beginning to turn, and The Suicide of Western Culture are riding the crest of that wave.
The overt sea change is of course due in no small part to a certain John Talabot – his authentic take on Balearic house was first recognised internationally with the release of his début full-length ƒIN, an album to have since been quite rightly revered worldwide – though The Suicide of Western Culture may yet prove to be more than a mere footnote in this concerted suppressing of that more western influence in favour of their own expression. Their eponymous début of 2010 traded in a forcefully idiosyncratic electroclash that was neither català, nor perceivably human though at its heart were two finely attuned beings pumping the expressive instrumentalia of Godspeed You! Black Emperor into insentient machinery. Hope Only Brings Pain only builds further upon this aesthetic, fortifying as might do a drop of aguardiente in your agua.
From the motorik, Fuck Buttons-inspired euphoria of Love Your Friends, Hate Politicians to the droning menace and creeping ecstasy of El Cristo De La Buena Muerte (think Holy Fuck emerging from the Balearic Sea and slithering, still dripping, into Barceloneta) Hope Only Brings Pain makes for an astonishingly composed, and with that exceedingly creative listen. Hey, guys! I Know The name Of The Culprits reroots the harsh sterilities of ’90s industrial (es decir Nine Inch Nails circa The Downward Spiral) through the upwardly motioned buoyancy of modern-day Pantha du Prince, this unorthodox mutation in turn bedaubed with muggy squalls of scintillatingly distorted electronica; When Did i Become Everything I Hate plays off a schizophrenic loud/ louder dynamic that’s as though the radiant final combustion of man and machine malfunctioning in unison; whilst a techno-rebooted title track is akin to Gold Panda’s Lucky Shiner lost in the monochromic insanity of the Windows startup screen reconfigured to first power Orbital’s Snivilisation.
And though an impression besmirched with both distortion and faulty dissonance – one which is perhaps to be expected, given the duo’s intimate creative affinity – they’ve four keen ears for melody between them, and never do they exhibit this more patently than on the album’s positively climactic desenlace, Scapaflow. As though drifting insouciantly into The Fragile, its metronomic keys cut through the stormy turbulence to leave that lasting impression. And as The Suicide of Western Culture emerge from the general headfuck that is Barcelona to bathe in international acclaim, they do so with their heads held high. They indeed head up our local bands to see list of this year’s fast approaching edition of Primavera Sound, and so should they yours. For this is bien. Muy, muy bien indeed.
Released: March 14th, 2013 [Irregular]