A horrible hack

The Party of Helicopters

Live At EarthQuaker Day 2019

Year Released: 2020
Format: Download
Label: self released
 
Reviewed by Alex Deller on Sep 25, 2020
Coming to a live set by a reunited Party Of Helicopters in 2020 is a bit of a weird one. I spent a lot of time with their music throughout the late 90s and early 00s, and would still happily vouch for their being one of the true oddball, distinctive voices in a scene where bands often drew from a relatively small pool of influences. They somehow managed to play nice with the various emo camps of the day, and yet stood markedly apart thanks a sound that was simultaneously delicate, splenetic and bona fide rockin', never entirely deciding whether they wanted to be all artful and indie or to simply bulge outward with unadulterated heavy metal swagger. I caught them just the once (at the Underworld, with Dead Meadow and The Apes) and they were exactly what I needed them to be (taut, frantic, baffling), and while I still listen to them and would recommend their music in a heartbeat the prospect of hearing them newly-resurrected felt kinda... ergh. Thankfully, though, the magic is still intact (maybe because some members still seem to pal around and make music together to this day?) and this set lands in your ears as though the past 15 years or so had all been but an ugly, repetitive, dully frightening dream. Riffs crunch; melodies wriggle and strain; drums clatter chaotically and singer Joe Dennis croons with the same strange, soft power that helped make the band so compelling in the first place. While loaded with choice cuts from the band's 'Please Believe It' swansong the band don't shy away from earlier efforts, lobbing in tracks from the brilliant 'Mt. Forever', a cheeky 'Bastard Motherfucker' and even digging back for tracks from their 'Fairy God Fighters' EP and split with The Underground Asian Movement. For me it's an absolute delight, but where it sits in the grand scheme of things is a bit of a tough one to call – existing fans still clinging to the records their bought 20 years ago (hi Andy, hi Nadia) must be getting fewer and further between as the years creak on, and anyone intrigued enough to check them out by meandering reviews such as this would, of course, be better off going straight to source and investigating one of their three full-lengths or the 'Space... And How Sweet It Was' collection. Like the band itself, then, this release is a bit of a curveball and a bit of an oddity – I'm glad it exists because it does bring me joy, but at the same time it leaves something of an ache because I'm pretty sure most of the world just won't know what the heck to do with it. Is this just how it has to be?


Recommended record by Collective Zine!

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