Fill Spaces With Noise

Perfect Pussy redeems the maligned art of album padding

by James Brotheridge

perfectpussy

Perfect Pussy
w/ La Luna, Rebuild/Repair and White Women
The German Club
Friday 28

The way guitarist Ray McAndrew describes Perfect Pussy’s process makes it sound like a lot of bands’.

“Garrett and I write the song,” says McAndrew. “I play guitar and he plays drums. We bring it to the band and they add in their part, so I guess Garrett and I are, like, songwriters.”

“Like” songwriters. It’s funny to hear any musician who makes original music describe themselves as “like” songwriters. But Perfect Pussy isn’t really about singer-songwriter music. The Syracuse, New York group is blow-your-hair-back, bloody-your-nose hardcore.

So don’t expect McAndrew to pull out the acoustic at a songwriter circle anytime soon.

“I guess when we write stuff, we don’t sit down and be like –– I don’t know. I guess we just let it flow out of us. If we get stuck, like if we come to a part and we’re like ‘What do we play after this?’, we’ll just play it 10 times and then whatever happens after that, happens.”

“Play it 10 times” could go by quickly. McAndrew, singer Meredith Graves, drummer Garrett Koloski, bassist Greg Ambler and synth player Shaun Sutkus make short, to-the-point hardcore: no frills, but squalls of noise in the mix.

Graves, a deadly, honest force of nature, completes the picture.

“We all come from different musical backgrounds,” says McAndrew. “Greg, our bassist, has been in grindcore bands. Meredith has a background in opera and in punk bands. Shaun is a recording engineer. He does noise on the side. And Garrett and I have been playing in indie and punk bands for a couple of years now, too.

“We all do our thing. I guess that’s why people like it, maybe. It’s just a melting pot of everything we all come from. ”

That pot had to melt together quickly for Say Yes to Love, Perfect Pussy’s debut full-length, out this month. After the group made a demo that became the EP I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling they were noticed by the mega-influential music website Pitchfork.

From there, PP’s audience exploded. They were quickly signed to Capture Tracks — and suddenly, they had to make an album.

Specifically, an album that was at least 22 minutes long.

McAndrew says a bit of padding may have happened.

“We had to make this record 22 minutes long,” says McAndrew. “We had seven songs originally and then it wasn’t long enough, so we had to just fill in a lot of space. So we added a noise track.”

The padding, though? It works. The last seven or eight minutes of the album fit with the opacity of their music. You can’t understand Graves’ vocals live, and on the record, they’re distorted and mixed low.

So that sentimental album title? If you have a lyric sheet –– which I didn’t –– you know it’s not so sweet.

“The whole line is ‘Since when do we say yes to love?’,” says McAndrew. “So the actual lyric is a little bit cool and [the abbreviation] doesn’t represent what the album is.”

2014-03-20