HOUSEWIVES- New York Repress LP
Punk in the age of infinite duplication.
Endless algorithms -- strands of digital DNA wrapping like loose cords around the arteries of daily life. We find ourselves mannequin-ed -- gazing longingly at the constant churn of street life; a simulacrum of stimulation. All the dense paranoias of the 20th century have shadow-walked their way right up to our 21st century doorstep and they are quietly picking the lock while we fritter away the hours in the room with the screens. What to do about this concealed drudgery? Where to turn in these bleak hours? How can we break the chains of routine, the labor of labour? Perhaps at this late date, it would be naive to state: “We can listen to Housewives.” What decade is this? How can music still inspire concentrated thought while satisfying its inherent
physical demands? Rock music is intended to be functional. Postpunk music is music for doing. Housewives are a band that does; and the content is not mere window-dressing.
Housewives are: Industrious music for industrious people.
A few years ago, London, England’s Housewives, in the finest of postpunk traditions, began making an intensely focused racket. Their debut took the form of a five-song limited-edition cassette put out by Faux Discx. This self-titled EP had a startling power and hypnotic force that is all too rare in this era of practiced disaffection. Instead of pretending to be bored by this evershifting world, Housewives' approach revealed a microscopic attention to detail.
Despite their using the traditional instruments of rock n’ roll, Housewives invert these powerful totems to their own ends. This is music that earns its praise from such high priests of refusal as Charles Hayward (This Heat, Camberwell Now). Like an Adam Curtis documentary, Housewives is music that takes on social constructs, looking for a way to disassemble these ridiculous structures. With it biting lyrics lampooning a lad who is “racist when it’s funny,” bracing opener “Poppy” seems to anticipate Brexit. As the bass throb surges through your system like a blood rush, perhaps you need to rethink your stance on what is and what is not important in the current supercut of media and politics. “In Camera” traffics in impossible clockwork rhythms -- they grind against each other, gathering momentum until the band sounds like an overworked machine on the verge of exploding. “Medicine Bottle” is the closest thing Housewives will serve you to a hit. The no wave guitar spasms -- like a coil snapped by sudden pressure -- collide with the rhythm section in the middle of a congested city. The claustrophobia summoned by the track is hardly offset by the snaking interjections of a saxophone. If anything, this presence of breath reinforces the sensation of necessary and cathartic exertion.
Courtesy of New York City’s Ever/Never Records, the unjustly-ignored debut by one of the top operating postpunk bands worldwide, has found a home on wax. Finally, this previously extremely-limited cassette is given the format it deserves. Delivered at a volume-enhancing 45 rpms, Housewives’ 12” EP is a diamond-hard gem of postpunk. “Almost Anything” shows just how locked-in to factory mode this band can get. Few modern bands are playing with such sounds and intentions. “62426” is a series of mutating nodes -- like the communications in THX-1138 made manifest in song-form. At times, Housewives recall the best of the UK’s postpunk gloom n’ doom glory days. The rub is -- we are in the future that those bands warned us about. Housewives are the last band standing, forcing our eyes open and demanding that we address the monolithic edifice of modern life.