Reasonable debut let down by hopeful press-release
Whenever I think of Golf Records the first thing that comes into my head is Less Than Jake, which I suppose is at least partly down to the fact that they've released no fewer than nine records by the Gainsville boys. Thankfully the label's output isn't restricted to LTJ's particular weapon of choice; the epitome of musical wrongdoing that is ska, a fact that couldn't be made any more glaringly obvious than by this release. You see whilst Showbread may have enough members to be a ska troupe (seven), they peddle wares of an altogether less brassy nature. The press release describes them as "spazz rock", so I relax safe in the knowledge that there shouldn't be a pah-pah-paah of trumpets in sight.
I certainly didn't have to worry on that account, but to even use the word spazz in the same sentence as Showbread is a mis-billing of proportions not seen since the great war I mean just what was so great about it? They adopt a slightly heavier version of the 'synth & scream' formula employed to such great effect by Bright Calm Blue in their 'Direct Approach...' EP, also finding similarities with Since By Man through their use of half-spoken vocals (set-off against abrasive screams) and brooding electronic samples. Whilst Showbread may strike similarities with their two esteemed peers, they never quite reach the same heights, and seem to make a habit of emulating other, more successful bands.
'Dead By Dawn' bases itself around a borrowed Quicksand riff or two, although it gains considerable kudos for being (I assume) a tribute to the second Evil Dead film of the same name. It opens with the sound of a chainsaw starting up and there's even a screamed "hail to the king baby" at the end Ash would be proud. Some spooky lead guitar wails through the chorus of 'If You Like Me Check Yes, If You Don't I'll Die', but fails to cover up the fact that the rest of the song is a barely disguised re-working of MC5's 'Kick Out The Jams'. The distorted electro nightmare of 'Sampsa Meets Kakfka' is darkwave at its most disturbing, although again sounds suspiciously similar to Aphex Twin's 'Windowlicker'. The Weezer-esque bridge in 'So Selfish It's Funny' is an awkward protrusion, and one that is laughably out of place with the rest of the song (and album). 'The Missing Wife' is an interesting proposition a low-fi bluegrass acoustic number with transistor radio vocals served on a bed of crackling vinyl hiss, but it's not the musical sore thumb that sticks out the most; its the lyrics. "And there you lay in Jesus' hands, resting there beside the lamb" is just one example of the ridiculous nativity theme contained herein, and rather worryingly I can't work out whether it's tongue in cheek or not. I would normally assume that such shameless (and slightly childish) worship was sarcastic in nature, but here I'm not so sure, as religious imagery does sporadically permeate throughout the rest of the album; "Jesus will forgive you", "Under a light in Bethlehem, I was sifting through the sand" ('And The Smokers And Children Shall Be Cast Down). 'Welcome To The Plainfield Tobe Hooper' is much more successful, opening with a menacing (and oh-so 80s) synth that sounds like the soundtrack to Shogun Assassin, a riff that is then mimicked by the guitar to result in some apocalyptic rock'n'roll. The sonic-dirge of closer 'The Bell Jar' is also decent, but the album as a whole is slightly disappointing. This certainly isn't helped by the press-releases insistence to classify what is essentially a fairly straight-laced electro-hardcore band as 'spazz'; fans of the insanity found with the likes of Horse The Band should not come here expecting more of the same, or disappointment will surely follow. The only thing remotely off-the-wall about Showbread are the cray-zee song titles "A Llama Eats A Giraffe (And Vice Versa)", although this is hardly original.
That said, 'No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical' is not without charm. It may not be hugely original, and it CERTAINLY isn't spazz in any way shape or form, but some of the hooks are good enough to stay with you, and the whole thing is injected with such an unstoppable energy that it's perhaps a little churlish to suggest that it's completely without merit.