DIGITAL LEATHER and THE HUSSY come from fairly different worlds musically, but their new split 12-inch, out now on Southpaw Records, is a solid pairing. Taken as a whole, the blend of electronic minimalism and garage clamor feels more like a collaborative effort than two distinct sides, making for a gratifying listen.
Digital Leather, from Arizona, is the brainchild of Shawn Foree, whose synth-driven songcraft calls up early Gary Numan or even a stripped down Thompson Twins. The Hussy, a Wisconsin duo, deliver a riffy mix of trash, noise, and psych, with throaty male-female vocals. (Foree plays synth on their side of the disc, giving their tracks a thicker texture than their other recordings.)
Foree’s tracks sound like the diary of someone helplessly lovestruck. Now and then, things go his way. “Just In Time For Love” and “Vaporized” are hopeful cuts that feature a protagonist beating the odds: “Sometimes when I go to sleep at night I dream of you. And when I wake up I think I might still be dreaming. There you are sleeping next to me.” More often than not, though, his songs feature him soul-searching over electronic drum loops and buzzing, brooding synth lines — and that’s where he’s at his strongest. “I’ve been living like a dog, I’ve been living in the fog lately,” he pines on “Lately,” the hooky, mid-paced opener. “So many reasons to run from romance, so many reasons lately.” It’s one of the record’s catchiest cuts.
“Their Eyes Are On Fire” and “Box Of Metal Emotions” are slow and solemn, exploring isolation and self doubt over sparse synth bass. The former paints a painful picture of strangers who ignore one another for fear of falling in love, while the latter is marked by lyrics like “I used to deny my nature” and the poignant refrain “don’t refuse your feelings.” “Sapphire,” the most upbeat cut on Digital Leather’s side, carries the record out of the fog and transitions seamlessly into The Hussy, whose blazing guitars, reverb-heavy yelps, and punky drums come in like a squall.
“WWDLD?” enters menacingly, with a wall of melodic noise and nasty layers of vocals by Bobby and Heather Hussy. “Everyone throws their love away,” they bellow, in a stark departure from Digital Leather’s introspection.
On some tracks, The Hussy skews as raunchy as their name suggests. “Studs In Love” (a cover of a Digital Leather song) offers a dose of schlock not present elsewhere: “I’m a man’s man. I don’t need no bitch. I like hairy asses, I like hairy asses.” The closer, “Stale Bread Jawns,” is snotty and sexually charged in the same way: “Three girls in my sight. Gonna pick the best. Five beers. All right. Gonna take the rest.”
Others are their own beasts. “Happy” is the closest The Hussy gets to noise pop, with its bubbly synth line and bright chorus. “I’m Alive” and “False Trails” are rollicking syncopated tracks that feature thundering drums and some of Bobby Hussy’s most clever guitar chops. “Round & Down” builds tension with layers of synth, guitar, and vocals before collapsing into an almost sludgy breakdown that ends the song. It’s deadly.
My Rating: SS
Genre/ Tags: Electronic, Pop, Punk
the Hussy/ Digital Leather Split 12″: Tracklist:
3.) Their Eyes Are on Fire
4.) Love Time
5.) Box of Metal Emotions
9.) I’m Alive
10.) Round & Down
11.) Studs in Love
12.) False Trails
13.) Stale Bread Jawns
FF: Pagan Hiss LP (Southpaw)
FF: Way With Words 7″ EP (Slovenly/Black Gladiator)
Weed Seizure LP (Tic Tac Totally)
Cement Tomb Mind Control LP (Slow Fizz)
Dokks 7″ (Goodbye Boozy)
Digital Leather – Yes Please, Thank You CS (Southpaw)
Find Digital Leather in our Top 10 EPs/Cassettes of 2012
Find the Hussy in our Top 30 Albums of 2013