A lot, but not quite enough
Cian Kinsella
12:42 27th October 2022

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New York’s Show Me The Body are a band always accompanied by the theoretical basis of their sound. The tracks on Trouble The Water, their third LP, ‘both reference and pay homage to the physical city, and the New York Sound: not one particular genre, but the people and subcultures that encapsulate its true foundation, style, and spirit’.

That’s great to hear, but anyone who’s been in a year 7 English lesson will know that the rule is ‘show, don’t tell’, and my personal dictum for music is that whatever the press release chooses to tell is probably what the music fails to show.

Trouble The Water is a good listen from start to finish, but there is breakdown of communication somewhere between the band and the listener. What they probably attempted was a split between experimental and more traditional songs, all underscored by a hardcore punk ethos and mood. What I’m hearing is a 50/50 split between left field songs with genuine aesthetic achievement, and hardcore traditionals (never thought I’d be writing that) which vary in quality and pale in comparison to the more adventurous ones.

‘Loose Talk’, the album’s opener, begins Trouble The Water as many good albums do: with a well done gimmick. In this case, the gimmick is a lone, southern Gothic style banjo lick. Its build up into a slugged hardcore track is haunting; the rustic feel adds to the track in the same way that a little lemon juice spruces up an otherwise boring dish. ‘Food From Plate’ is one of the more conventional hardcore tracks, but as the first of its kin on Trouble The Water, it doesn’t feel tired yet.

The sixth track, ‘Out of Place’, is the second track that warrants serious aesthetic merit. Featuring only vocals and cold synthesisers, it sounds like outer space, but specifically the lonely kind. No extra-terrestrial civilisations, just lone rangers traversing the vast deep. Julian Cashwann Pratt’s vocals are full of anguish and are given the space to express that. ‘Boils Up’ is a continuation of this theme, in which the eerie tranquillity of the previous track literally boils up into a ruckus.

"Messy and triumphant..."

The interweaving of synths on ‘Boils Up’ contrasts sharply with ‘Radiator’: a relatively straightforward hardcore track using synthesisers in place of guitars. Other than a really cool drum breakdown, it was redundant. ‘We Came To Play’, ‘War Not Beef’, and ‘Using It’ are all largely just textbook hardcore tunes, too, saved (again) by gnarly, locked in breakdowns. They are all discardable.

One of my favourite tracks on Trouble The Water is ‘Buck 50’. Messy and triumphant, Pratt’s slurred exhortations remind me of Iceage; the whole song is a braggadocio explosion fit for any Gallagher. ‘Demeanor’, which follows it, is another deft execution of Show Me The Body’s signature synth/hardcore combo. 

‘WW4’, the second single released from Trouble The Water is a haunting and emotional banjo goes heavy song like ‘Loose Talk’. Pratt’s vocals are half-sung and hopeless in a powerful way. The end of the song, backed by roaring feedback and grunted lyrics, is the best 60 seconds on the album. It would’ve been the perfect place to end Trouble The Water, but Show Me The Body decided to end the album with the album’s eponymous song, which is not interesting – although it’s not bad. The problem with ‘Trouble The Water’, like many other songs on the album, is that it aspires no higher than New York hardcore. If I wanted to listen to a straight up hardcore band, I would just listen to Trash Talk, who do it great.

To briefly tangent, I’m making my first sourdough starter at the moment. When you feed it every day, you have to discard about half of it first. They claim to be inspired by New York, so in true New York style, Show Me The Body should have modelled themselves on sourdough starter and discarded the less daring songs to better ferment Trouble The Water.

Trouble The Water arrives October 28th

Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.

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