The untitled intro track of Pi on the Side—a trippy, echoing, swirling array of voices chanting "Thank you for ingesting me" over a distant shouted argument that eventually condenses to whirling psychedelic noise—is a jarring surprise from a band that previously seemed content to put out tight Minutemen-inspired punk-rock jams.
But as it gives way to the chunky rolling bass and jagged guitar line of "Reader's Indigestion," it's clear that the moment of experimental sound art was a red herring from the ever-playful Deep Snapper, a band as likely to write a song about making sammiches as pen a tune about Isaac Newton's internal conflict between his religious and scientific sensibilities. And, if the song title "Gimme Back The Cold War Days" isn't enough of a clue, then the opening lines of "The Emergence of the Scunt Pinch" should clue you in to the fact that this is a band whose chief influence is '80s punk. Sings John Newberry: "My name is Ronald Reagan. I bet you thought I was dead." And you thought punk bands were done beating up on ol' Raygun.
Sure, there are a few other moments of experimentation, such as the also-untitled track 19, an annoying mélange of squawking sax, oompah tuba and farting trombone. But for the most part it's shouted vocals about politics and other nonsense, earworm melodies and breakneck drum-bashing with prominent bass and a heaping helping of distortion and feedback. Reagan lives.
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