How to describe a violent burst of sound, four songs in five and a half minutes time, produced by two different bands? Well, that’s what the Seconds/Ex Models split CD is asking me to do, and frankly, I’m not quite sure how to go about it.
Both bands are from New York, both are loud and spastic, both make very little linear sense, amounting to frantic shrieks over angular guitars and whomping rhythms—sorta like if The Boredoms went on a cannibalistic binge and ate The Talking Heads circa ‘77 and Fugazi whole.
The disc starts out with Ex Models 36-second rant “U Got What I Need”, which sounds like a frantic monkey ranting over a sped-up recording of the Mekons “Fear and Whiskey”. Meanwhile, their second song, “3 Weeks”, pummels a one-note bass riff into your skull for nearly two minutes, while all kinds of crazy guitar carnage erupts in the background.
“3 Weeks” then comes to a close with more monkey-on-speed yelping and frantic bashing, leaving you sticky, broke and confused, and primed for The Seconds to take the stage. While they’re only marginally less difficult than their friends, their sound makes a little more sense—at least the singers sound like people instead of rabid animals. Their formula is quite similar, though—angular, damaged guitar licks and shrieking vocals (just not as shrieking as Ex Models’) over a pummeling rhythm section. The last song on the disc, “Better Suit” actually approaches pop song convention, with the singer blurting “Don’t you know I got a better suit” over and over, against a funky, Gang of Four-ish strut. It almost makes sense, but it’s over too fast for you to really wrap your head around what happened.
And so it goes with this entire disc: two bands, four songs, five minutes and 26 seconds. This is, so they tell us, the new No Wave. Lock up your daughters.