by dave heaton
On January 21, Slumberland Records released two fast-and-furious, under 30-minute records, that at the right volume buzz your ears and thrill, like you’ve spent the evening in a packed, dark, possibly smoky basement bar watching band after band blaze through a rough-around-the-edges type of noisy guitar-pop.
Very few of us have been spending our leisure time that way the last couple years. We’ve been at home, worried, nervous, fretting about things we should be worried about, things we probably shouldn’t, and things that we’re not sure we’re even really worried about. Anxiety is the keyword, for our era (can we call two years an era? sure feels like it) and for Artsick’s debut album Fingers Crossed, one of those two records (Kids on a Crime Spree’s superb Fall in Love Not in Line is the other, with its own loud guitars and romantic bike-gang vibe).
Singer/guitarist Christina Riley (Burnt Palms, Boyracer) starts the first song like this: “So restless, I don’t know what to do / nothing I try makes me feel good.” The fourth song starts, “Just a ghost of myself / haunting me and my own house”.
That song, “Ghost of Myself”, begins with the “Be My Baby” drums (sort of). Two songs later comes a hand-clap intro that feels similarly retro. Mostly, though, this music is punkish indie-pop, with loud guitars and fast drums, and hooky melodies sung somewhere between casual and atonal, with variety not as prioritized as immediacy and ‘honesty’.
There’s a couple songs about spurned would-be love, but most of it is a raw dose of the worry we’re already feeling – cathartic when played loud. The songs have titles like “Dealing With Tantrums” (aren’t we all?), “Stress Bomb” (aren’t we all?) and “Be OK” (will we be?).
The album ends with a song called “Fiction”, where the bass player seems to be playing “Time Is Tight” by Booker T and the MGs while Riley tells us that she “overthinks almost everything” and reveals her thoughts are killing her.
Welcome to the club!