Shooting at Unarmed Men

    Yes! Tinnitus!


    Named for a screechingly intense inner-ear condition that causes a persistent feedback wail to emanate deep from within its victim’s frontal lobe, Yes! Tinnitus! blessedly does not recreate its namesake’s sonic assault — which is to say it isn’t Metal Machine Music. What it is is (wait for it) a deconstructionist/absurdist grunge/punk concept album. Kid you not. Every element of this Welsh guitar/bass/drums trio’s music — riffs, hooks, arrangements, song forms — comes off as calculatedly dirt-simple, dirt-simpler, dirt-simplest: doused in mud, soaked in Bleach. There’s nothing here your twelve-year-old cousin couldn’t learn how to play in about three seconds on his/her instrument of choice. This, of course, is a good thing: Writing simple rock songs is a noble goal, and writing good simple rock songs is just about the hardest thing in the world to do. The members of Shooting at Unarmed Men manage that latter feat on about half the tracks of Yes! Tinnitus!, so let’s give them a hand.


    And, oh yeah, fulfilling the “absurdist” part of the above description: the lyrics. What else would you call this bit, from “A Horse by Day Is a Horse by Night”: “All the king’s horses, all the king’s horses/ stuck a dick in my sister [the fuck?? — that line might not be exactly right]/ saw the whites of their eyes/ she saw the whites of their eyes,” followed by the following loud grunge-thrash chorus-scream, repeated over and over: “God said fuck ’em/ God said I don’t wanna” (again, I might not be transcribing that completely correctly). Now, I’m not the brightest guy in the world, and I’m certainly no more qualified to criticize rock music than, for example, you; but if that isn’t intentional absurdism at its finest then I will throw in the proverbial towel, move to Montana, buy a typewriter and a tent and try my hand at writing the Great American Novel like I’ve always wanted. (It’s gonna be about an underdog baseball team that unexpectedly wins the World Series.)


    Not all the absurdism is as sublimely weird as that horse song, however, and some of the tunes’ musical dirt-simplicity is just boring (especially the slow ones — tracks 3 and 7 — avoid them). But if you’re a fan of deconstructionist/absurdist grunge/punk — and who isn’t, right? — Yes! Tinnitus! will make your ears happy. Unless you actually have tinnitus. If that’s the case, damn that sucks dude. Feel better.


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