October 04, 2004

Struction "13 Minutes of Love and Doom"

I didn’t like Struction’s self-titled debut EP much. The New York trio sounded as if they couldn’t decide whether to be alt-rock or post-hardcore, whether to sing or scream, or whether to play or against each other. They instead tried to exercise all of their options at once, cramming their songs with more lyrics, riffs and rhythms than they could reasonably support…and, on some occasions, more of them than the musicians could actually PLAY. My review of their debut climaxed with the plea, “Get a bassist already and stop shouting all the damn time!” Struction had already finished their second EP before the review ran on Mundane Sounds, therefore there was no way that they could have taken my advice while making it. Fortunately, 13 Minutes of Love and Doom is a significant improvement over their debut that proves that they didn’t really need to take my advice. They’re still angry and trebly, but Struction’s new material finds them settling into their own sound instead of trying to choose between two or three.

Ironically, Struction has accomplished this task by becoming even MORE abrasive and scattershot. Guitarist Meira Sonin’s supple alto used to be the centerpiece of the band’s songs. Now, though, she does more rapping and shouting than actual singing, and her melodic moments are used as asides instead of climaxes. Fellow guitarist David Podrid is still content with screaming completely different lyrics simultaneously in half of the songs. Because the songs on 13 Minutes are almost completely stripped of melody anyway, the band’s dual hollering doesn’t annoy me as much as it did on their debut. (You can’t exactly ruin good tunes by screaming if they aren’t any tunes to begin with.)

Rhythm and texture are now the band’s main priorities, and Struction stickman Paul Hill rises to the occasion accordingly. Not only has his drumming significantly improved, but his decision to integrate more samples into the sound keeps the new songs from blurring into one another. The distorted organs and backward vocals on “Red Guitar/Black Guitar” recall the sinister tape collages of Sebadoh-era Eric Gaffney, and the intros of “Even If They’re Big We’ll Find Something Sharp” and “Nemesis” sound like amplified kitchen cutlery. On anti-rape screed “The Wrong Thing,” every element of the recording except for the vocals sounds over-modulated. I thought my subwoofer had blown the first time I heard it. When Hill isn’t disrupting the songs with technology, he’s navigating the whiplash-inducing transition with a precision that was markedly absent from the band’s debut EP. Once the band’s weakest link, he is now its MVP.

My favorite song on this EP is “Even If They’re Big…,” which is what Trumans Water would have sounded like if they were angry instead of goofy. The verses stop and start abruptly in a time signature that probably can’t even be notated by hand, and the chorus finds Sonin at her most confident and defiant: “They say we can make the difference; I say we ARE the difference. They say we can change everything; I say we’ve ALREADY changed!” The song itself goes through at least three distinct riffs in a mere 72 seconds. Every song is so action-packed that once the final chord of “Reverse Vampires Under Negative Rainbows” fades out, you’ll feel as if the EP’s actually shorter than it claims to be. As harsh as 13 Minutes of Love and Doom is, it actually left me wanting more, a feat that their previous EP couldn’t accomplish. I guess I’m a Struction fan now.

---Sean Padilla

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