Chicago’s X27 comes with terrible guitars and short snub-nosed guns of feedback, shifted and pissed that none of their contemporaries have touched the mentalist thoughts of post-punk for almost 25 years. X27 is a three-piece, which helps. The songs they make last about two minutes at a time, which is better. And the band’s economic mood towards pop-less thrash, micro-Krautrock intelligence fits, angry and confused male/female vocal interplay, and the Wire back-catalogue sounds like one of the best ideas in the world, especially after years spent in the idea-starved landscape of revivalist garage rock.
With songs “Zoo,” “Pulse,” and “Anal Box,” the nerved-through drum configurations and tension-squalled vocoder studio time is as reminder-heavy as the competition, slavishly devoted to a shred of excitement-culture that lived to bridge the Sex Pistols’ fallout to primitive music’s borderless expansionism in the ’80s and ’90s. But recalling a drunk and less purposefully difficult Dub Housing-era Pere Ubu has its benefits, like when female vocalist Carmen X (who shares vocal duties with male guitarist Rikkeh X) takes the stage, as she does about half the time. Her feminine struggle-growls lurchingly narrow down the band’s spiked influences into a single aluminum spasm of aesthetically cool retro counter-culture.
Whether X27’s existence is a step forward in a backward sort of way or a step backward in a forward sort of way, this is a band quick to realize new-old territorial nostalgia and that it’s okay, at least for a while, to sound like Elastica after a back-alley battle for post-punk bloodletting.