Dichotomies can define a band or artist throughout their bodies of work, their lives and their legacies. When things beloved by musicians run in contrast, the results are often frightening, awkward, yet compelling and almost always (sometimes accidentally) in the spirit of their time. Case in point: Dublin quintet THUMPER’s most recent release ‘Magnum Opuss’, thrown out via Little L Records on that label’s customary lash of handmade tapes, as well as via Bandcamp.
Sonic Youth might serve as an obvious reference point, but the no-wave tendencies are tempered by a way with hooks best exemplified in ‘Dan the Man’, a happy, mid-paced mover that almost lapses into Britpop territory in places. Not to say entirely tamed – ‘Chimera’ manages some odd shapes in its six minutes, an Odyssean length for a band becoming better-known for brevity, while opener ‘Rent is Due’ is slowly dragged into existence by noise/sampling courtesy of fellow Dublanders Otherkin and Bitch Falcon.
THUMPER blurb themselves as “Sonic Youth meets ABBA”, and while the former’s obsessions with pop don’t make such a fusion so odd on paper, it’s still quite jarring to hear such pristine pop arrangement and songwriting emerge so clearly from a spiky, over-saturated noise. Sometimes coming off as unmastered, super-rough live takes, and other times entirely bathed in feedback, it’s a charming mix that’s beginning to turn heads, with the band garnering plenty of love for their by-all-accounts deranged performance at Knockanstockan this past month. Keep ’em peeled and pricked for this crowd. Mike McGrath Bryan