Saturday, 13 October 2007

FIRE ENGINES 'HUNGRY BEAT'

(Acute Records, 2007)

01 candyskin
02 meat whiplash
03 get up and use me
04 everything's roses
05 big gold dream
06 plastic gift
07 sympathetic anaesthetic
08 discord
09 new thing in cartons
10 hungry beat
11 lubricate your living room part 1
12 lubricate your living room part 2
13 get up and use me (version)
14 sympathetic anaesthetic (version)
15 new thing in cartons (version)
16 plastic gift (version)

It’s an especially timely release for a chaotic Scottish post-punk band that only lasted a year and a half in the early ‘80s. The Engines have devoted fans in Primal Scream, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand, who have coaxed the band back together for shows together and released split cover singles with ‘em. This attention spurred a rarities compilation on Domino, 2006’s Codex Teenage Premonition, but Hungry Beat is the first bona-fide starter’s guide to the Fire Engines. Cobbling the band’s singles and mini-album together, Hungry Beat represents the core of the band’s output in their stunted lifetime.

Certainly a product of their environment, the Fire Engines took much of their inspiration from the No-Wave scene running concurrently in the States. Stabbing at the same dissonant funk of James Chance’s Contortions or Lizzy Mercier Descloux, the Engines play rhythm-driven punk-funk with a more playful, rawer attitude. The band dips into other contemporary shorthand, sounding on “Big Gold Dream” like an attention-deficit Magazine and often affecting the disco-punk of a dirtied little brother to Gang of Four. Bouncing around the reactionary musical shorthand that truly embodied the term post punk, the Engines material here tells the story, much like Wire’s ‘70s album trilogy, of a punk band becoming more punk by becoming more than punk.