ed.’s note: Happy Thanksgiving. I’m in New York City visiting friends, both old and new. Cool.
Earlier this year, I wrote about HEALTH’s most recent full-length studio album, Get Color. What I failed to mention was how good, and – unfortunate for them – how poorly they were received when I saw them open for Nine Inch Nails in Orlando on the Lights in the Sky tour in October, 2008.
Admittedly, I was there to see NIN alone, so any opener was sure to be shucked aside to some extent, only to have to be dealt with for a spell until the meat of the show. What I’ve come to realize in the 5 years since that show is how Trent Reznor has always handpicked bands, and that I should have paid better attention to said fact.
On other tours, Reznor has picked bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky, Death From Above 1979, and The Cars’ Gary Numan, amongst others. I’d venture to say he knows a thing or two about what he’s doing.
Reznor picked HEALTH because of how hard they go in the paint, so to speak. For a band to get on stage in front of 15,000 unsuspecting folks, not give a single fuck, and bang out a ripper of a set despite the people in the audience laughing and heckling is a testament both to the group’s collective creative spirit and belief in their own art.
It’s more than just confidence in what you’ve created. It takes a certain, unabashed chutzpah to be able to pull that off in front of a hostile crowd made up of people there to hear Reznor sing “I want to fuck you like an animal” for the zillionth time.
I was hooked because of their live presence. The way the group was able to outright exude noise without dumbing their craft or watering down their style is exceptional.
While I can’t at all say that this is ‘easy listening,’ or even ‘accessible,’ I would compare this group to a band like Death Grips: a near impossible learning curve, but once the threshold has been breached, the possibility for enjoyment is boundless.
And though their debut album doesn’t contain the nuance that Get Color does, it shows not only the promise, but the bombastic soul of the band. Songs like “Triceratops,” “Crime Wave,” and “Glitter Pills” pack so many different strands of noises into compact structures, it’s hard to keep up at times.
HEALTH will keep you guessing. As Dennis Lyxzén would say: “Stay fucking curious.”
Totally into it.
From their self-titled debut album, this is HEALTH’s “Crimewave” –
Standout tracks: “Triceratops,” “Crime Wave,” “Tabloid Sores,” and “Glitter Pills”
Weakest track: “Courtship” and “Zoothorns” because only John Zorn is John Zorn.
RIYL: Noise rock. The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, No Age, Lightning Bolt.