The Attrition EP / The Picardy Third EP
2005 / 2006
B / B
irst of all: does anyone remember Zwan? You know, Billy Corgan’s Prozac-pumped post-Smashing Pumpkins project? Yeah, you do. It’s OK, I have a copy of Mary, Star of The Sea buried somewhere in my collection too. The thing is, I kinda thought it was hot shit when I spun it the first few times. OK, OK, maybe not “hot shit.” Maybe it was just a feeble attempt to realize a twisted possibility: Billy Corgan actually coming close to having fun. Those who trashed it did so, I believed, for questionable reasons—yes, the album art looked like a 4th grader just discovered Photoshop and, yes, Jimmy Chamberlin was the only one who actually looked happy—because they didn’t think Corgan could actually enjoy making music nor would the results remotely bear that possibility. They were right.
I don’t remember how I first heard of Sally, but it’s through Zwan’s utter failure that I first loved Charlie Deets’s voice and the lo-fi textures upon which he used it. See, Corgan’s voice at its darkest and most demented was also at its most affected, making 2000’s MACHINA/The Machines of God a genuine bore at its supposedly most intense moments. Deets sometimes sings as though he simply doesn’t give a fuck, letting out slovenly screams only inches away from the microphone. The same goes for the rest of the band members, who will show some Alternative chops one minute before letting it all crash like a kid with ADD playing Jenga. Above all, you can tell that they’re enjoying themselves in the process through such structural variation and adjustments. Sally are effectively The Smashing Pumpkins’ felicitous half.
The Attrition EP and The Picardy Third EP differ from their eponymous debut through tighter production, fuller sound, and a more nuanced approach to their song constructions. All three are evidenced more on The Attrition, especially on opener “Thank God for Sunglasses” and “The Ungrateful Interlude,” since both bassist Melissa Neis and (then) drummer Hunter Morris are given animating, if not central, roles in both songs. This helps better position the guitars when they enter and specifically highlights Deets’s guitar work, a feature that was of lesser importance on their debut.
“Abundant Sunshine,” opener for The Picardy Third EP, takes further liberties through guitar echoes and distortion and comes off denser than the tracks on The Attrition. Here they move further away from the lo-fi elements and embrace a more straightforward Alternative M.O. “You Want the Guac” reinforces that change, as a wall of different pedaled distortion shreds through and continues with “Nothing Turns Me On.” While “The Inaccurate Conception” ends the endeavor with a resounding wail, one that only leads to anticipation for their next release.
At first it may seem a bit of a waste to release two EP’s instead of just an LP collecting all the tracks here, but it wouldn’t have worked. The Attrition is more remarkable as a transitional entry from their debut album than anything else, and The Picardy Third works as yet a second transition to a more rarefied sound.