Album Review: Dub Thompson – 9 Songs

Dub Thompson, 19-year-old duo Matt Pulos and Evan Laffer, have recently released their debut album, 9 Songs, on Dead Oceans. Don’t be fooled by the record’s title — there are only 8 tracks, each possessing their own respective unique wit, raising many eyebrows. Is this post-hardcore? Is this lo-fi punk? Or is this just a scuzzed out post-punk ballad?

Call it what you will, but 9 Songs, it’s clear that the duo have influences embedded in the likes of 80’s alternative/noise rock classics such as Fugazi and Sonic Youth, electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, and as well as hints of Public Image Ltd, as seen in the bass line of the fourth cut off the album, “Dograces”. Hailing from Los Angeles, there is an apparent dissonance between their town’s sunny dispositions and the bands swooping, darkly menacing yet pop-tinted image. Feeling more at home in a smoked-out, beer filled basement than a bright and sunny beach, their music dictates exactly that.

Recorded at Foxygen member Jonathan Rado’s rented out home in Bloomington, Indiana, you can clearly tell the two acts’ personal influences on each other. With Foxygen’s psychedelic spin on Bob Dylan and The Beatles, Dub Thompson offer a different aesthetic, a weird yet stimulating mix of proto-punk garage music of the 1960’s. Dub Thompson enjoy to wear their rough edges proudly.

With opening tracks like “Hayward!” and “No Time”, the band at times seems structurally confused. Throughout the 30 minute LP, Pulos and Laffer franticly switch up song structures at unexpected moments, leaving listeners in a state of confusion, further solidifying their west coast proto-punk roots. But for all the energy and often neurotic structural shifts in effect here, 9 Songs rarely feels like a mess.

When it comes down to it, it seems challenging for a young band with so many sonic directions to put out solid releases, but 19 year olds Matt Pulos and Evan Laffer seem to brush off that notion and perform with nonchalance. This release, sonically challenging the listener at times, is certainly highly dissonant and will appeal to fans of mort art-tinted, experimental indie rock. One thing to take out of this is the oddly well-executed, beautiful flaws of the album.

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