Useless Eaters – Hypertension

useless_eaters_coverRating: ★★½☆☆

According to his press cohorts, Seth Sutton is taking cues from Jay Reatard, at least in regards to the musical side of life.  Never sure of when our time is up, Seth aims to release as much music with Useless Eaters as is humanly possible.  On the newest record from the group, Hypertension, you can see the hurried force coming through; there are incredible gems, but some areas could definitely use a nice little polishing.

Hypertension opens with “A New Program,” which might not have been the best choice in the long run.  It’s a decent song, but it doesn’t quite have the punch to kick down the doors of your eardrums and suck you right into the record.  It’s a good thing “Moody Bitch” follows with it’s off-kilter vocals and whirling guitar/drum skirmishes.  This is where those that have caught Useless Eaters live expected things to start, though at this point, you still might be looking for a finished version.

The previously released “Addicted to the Blade” is where things begin to take form, with an angular guitar cutting its way through from the get-go.  There’s even some mild tension building guitar noodling in the middle of the track that really adds to the punch of this track; it’s clear why this tune was so successful as a 7″ single.  You put that together with “Black Night Ultraviolet,” which trickles in at the sixth spot, and you’ve got two great standouts.  On the latter number, I dig the relaxed feel to the delivery of the vocals, as well as the simplicity of the lyrics.  These are probably the two brightest moments throughout Hypertension, though that is just one man’s opinion.

If you buy the vinyl, you’re going to notice the different leaning of the B-Side; it contains a much more metallic/electronic approach to it.  Unfortunately, the vocals are often obscured, and again, you can’t help but wish for an improved quality in the recordings.  For instance, “Shapes of a Mannequin” could really be a huge success, but there’s this odd echo on the vocals that really creates an affecting audial distance.  And personally, I’d like to see the guitars sharpened just a hint, as I completely dig what’s being played.

In the end, Hypertension seems precisely as its definition would indicate: an extreme state of psychological stress, but that comes from a listeners standpoint, and not that of Useless Eaters.  I’m stressed and frustrated because I can hear great songs lurking throughout my repeated listens, but they just hide on the very edge of greatness, then shy away to a realm of mediocrity.  Sometimes it’s best not to rush through your ideas, letting them hang about a bit while you clean them up.  Hopefully the next effort improves on that aspect, and if so, it could be a solid hit.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Addicted-To-The-Blade.mp3]

Download: Useless Eaters – Addicted To The Blade [MP3]

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