Damaged Bug: Cold Hot Plumbs 12"

Castle Face Records


John Dwyer has a surprise… While everyone eagerly anticipates the next Oh Sees record, he’s been working tirelessly in his synth laboratory, hand-crafting a followup to last year’s neon-noir Damaged Bug debut—one that shakes up the snow globe considerably. If Hubba Bubba was a brush with a robotic exoskeleton on deep-space patrol, Cold Hot Plumbs visits the alien world that sent it into the cosmos. Lush, textural and psychedelic, the songs breathe with a otherworldly sadness and heart. Barbed, sophisticated arrangements flower in every direction. The vintage-perfect sound palette would be window dressing if not for the songs themselves: fresh, vital, and above all catchier than the flu. Cold Hot Plumbs is a strange, beautiful, and oddly infectious addition to Dwyer’s oeuvre, and not one to be missed.

Our take: 2nd LP from John Dwyer from Thee Oh Sees' solo project. I feel like I'd heard this described as "synth-punk" in a couple of different places, so I guess I was expecting this to be some kind of bleep-bleep-bloop-bloop Gary Numan-type stuff (which, don't get me wrong, I really like sometimes), but that isn't really what this is at all. Synth is definitely a major component here, but I wouldn't even say it's the definitive one. I'm having a bit of trouble associating this with a sub-genre or even any similar bands... it sounds like most of the rhythm tracks are built out of looped samples so that gives it a slight hip-hop vibe, but there are also a lot of psychedelic elements and of course it's all put together with Dwyer's razor-sharp pop sensibility. For some reason the overall vibe reminds me of something that would have come out of the late 80s or early 90s UK, which I suppose is the main era I associate with the fusion of loop-based music with a 60s psychedelic aesthetic. For someone like me who has a little bit of trouble getting away from guitar-based music it all sounds very fresh and exciting, and even if it doesn't have the transcendent pop highs of some of Thee Oh Sees' best tunes it's still a really original and great record.
Tags: 10s garage synth-punk yoobl