Album Review: The purrs – we thought there’d be more people here

Loving the record cover. It’s like a Bond film poster if Bond wasn’t a self serving government secret agent, and more of an eyeliner rock star with a penchant for getting fucked up and smashing his guitar…and wouldn’t that be preferable?!

According to the blurb on their website The Purrs ‘don’t want you to know how long they’ve been around’ so it would be churlish to ask, but I guess long enough to absorb the works of Iggy Pop and Velvet Underground, and fuse that with Jesus & Mary Chain and the shoegaze scene of Spaceman 3. They have 6 albums to their name and this, their 7th was compiled during lockdown from live recordings they have made over the years in and around their hometown of Seattle (which makes the title of this album more amusing – we’ve all been there). They are not the most dynamic of bands and probably aren’t much to watch, but their long slow rambling songs have a hypnotic quality, and with the right lighting (preferably a wash of 60’s oil slides) and the right night, and the audience just the right side of stoned, it could quite possibly be the best night out you’ve had for a while. I imagine they’ve had plenty of wrong nights but that isn’t always theirs to control, and judging by the evidence presented here, they have the ability to elevate what could easily have turned out to be a lacklustre evening into a night to remember. Armed with basic (Fender Jaguar) guitar, bass and drums and the de-rigueur grunge flannel shirts adorning their bodies, they pull in elements of classic American psyche from 13th Floor Elevators to Neil Young to Dream Syndicate to Sonic Youth.

Yes sometimes it gets a bit too retro and you might occasionally yearn for the injection of a few new ideas from time to time but I guess they have recognised that this is something they love, and this is something they are good at so why fuck with it, and after all bands like Primal Scream have made a career, and a pretty good living out of copying a blueprint laid down by those who have gone before, so what the hell. “Loose Talk” comes across like The Seeds jamming with The Archies, “Don’t Talk About Tomorrow” is like something from Neil Young’s  “Rust Never Sleeps” album, “Much Too Much” like Thurston Moore jamming with The Replacements. Do you see where we’re going here? “Disconnected” displays the long slow meandering qualities of Neil Young’s “Danger Bird” with some tripped out guitar soloing from Jason Milne, verging on Built To Spill territory on “Late Night Disturbance”, all presented in a gloriously undoctored no frills, no augmentation lo-fi format, giving it the vicarious thrill of a bootleg.

Okay so they wear their influences very much on their lumberjack sleeves, and they may not be the best examples of their genres, especially on songs like “Much Too Much” which kind of sounds a bit dull, but they also have something those other bands up there on the podium getting all the plaudits, don’t have. They’re ours. You can walk into a basement bar somewhere in downtown Seattle on a Friday night, pay your 5 dollars or whatever to get your hand stamped with a blurry black blob of ink by the person behind the chain link fence at the entrance, stroll into a half full dark, dank, dingy square to be enthralled by 4 people who look pretty much the same as the rest of the crowd, and probably even get to hang with them and exchange pleasantries after the gig at the small makeshift merch stand at the back…and who knows maybe even purchase a 7″ vinyl to take home with you. And that’s something. That’s really something.

Find out more on The Purrs’ official website.

Review by Andrew Wood

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