Loose Lips Sink Ships
h, Fugazi, how we love thee. And also, indie rock with yr krazy song titles—god bless you, too. Women with pretty voices who decide to scream instead? Well, we'll certainly invite you over for dinner once a week. All of you, let's vacation together. Let's dip our toes into a cool stream, and play Saints records backed with Babes in Toyland and then top it all off with a late-night sing-a-long to Mr. Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger. I promise, it will be fun.
Des_Ark live in that place where the past is just about catching up to the future. Not exactly the present (more like 1996) but certainly showing the promise of shooting straight past us mere mortals into at least 2010. Boasting a mere two members (Aimee Argote (vocals, guitar); Tim Herzog (drums)), a co-production credit to Sir J Mascis, and lyrics that will cause your average listener to scan back their iPod a bit, this North Carolina-based duo takes the cake with for best shortest full-length of 2005 (so far… but how many more contestants will there be?).
Because really this is an EP. Or rather, by new millennium standards, it is. But Des_Ark is insisting this eight-song, twenty-eight minute recording is the full deal. That’s one of the respectable things about them. Now let's take some lyrics. "You think that I don't know / That my lover's got a sickness / That I can't fuck him out of?" ("Queen of the Sketch Patrol"). Or, "You get that shit out of your arms / And you get well right now / You scrub that smell all off your body / Have dinner with the family" ("No More Fighting Cats, Ok?"). Move on to imagining Shannon Wright ingesting Steve Albini whole and you have an idea of what Des_Ark sounds like. Loose Lips Sink Ships flies with its self-imposed control. Piano enters a song, but one key at a time. The guitar has the power of denseness, that’s apparent in only a single plucked note drenched in reverb. This is a tight spring that's just been sprung.
There are some problems. The six heavier tracks in the middle are bookended by gorgeous folk songs which especially highlight the subtlety of Aimee Argote's voice. Given the bludgeoning force of the middle of the record, Des_Ark could have stood to add these disparate sounds more evenly into the mix, and even into the midst of the songs themselves. There are brief moments when Argote channels every riot grrl screech she can find and, well, it's just kind of been done before. It's not as compelling as it was the first time around. Add to that the stale occasional math-rock approach and we get a recording that has a dated feeling it probably could have avoided. It's a case of moving some of the puzzle pieces around to get a better whole. Nothing's missing, Des_Ark just needs to figure it all out a bit better. That way, they'll get from really good to great. For the time being, though, put on "Jesus Loves You (But Yr Still Comin Home With Me Tonight)" and blast out the rest of your hot summer days with the knowledge that potential greatness can sometimes arrive in very small packages.
Reviewed by: Jill LaBrack
Reviewed on: 2005-08-15