Knowing that the members of We Versus the Shark came together and formed a band after bonding through a shared love of The Dismemberment Plan brings a smile to my face. In fact, I did the same thing once, more or less. But more importantly, it reveals the Athens, Ga., band to be, rather than a divinely inspired group of art snobs, four friends who listen to great music, play great music and sound like they’re having a hell of a time spazzing out and banging brutal, insanely fun sounds out of their instruments.
It only follows, logically, that We Versus The Shark has a little bit of The Dismemberment Plan’s hyperactive, fractured new wave brewing in their noisy cauldron of mischief. Yet that cauldron contains a thick and dense mixture of sounds, incorporating sludgy riffs, agitated vocal yelps and some of the most punishing bass sounds this side of a Jesus Lizard record. That mixture bubbles over on the band’s new album Dirty Versions, which is a testament to just how much damage Casios and unholy screeches can do in the course of 40 minutes.
Dirty Versions is the kind of record that gives little to no consideration toward the safety of the listener, and, rather, continually surges forward at breakneck speeds. We Versus The Shark aren’t about to give you a break or show you any mercy, because, quite frankly, they’re just not that kind of band. Instead, they’ll kindly blast through a fiery number like “Hello Blood” and burn the stage on their way out. They’ll invite you to flail and twitch to the spastic synth-punk of “I Am the President of the World.” They’ll stomp and boogie along to the surprisingly catchy bassline of “Mr. Ego Death,” but they’ll also erect a fortress of noise and chaos around it in the process. And after a bout of destruction such as “I Am The Contempt Machine,” they’ll even go out with a marvelous, memorable coda.
Even when the tempo slows, as in “I Am A Caffeinated Corpse” (just one of the four songs in the “I Am” series), the results are still sufficiently terrifying. But it’s a good terrifying. On Dirty Versions it seems as if the scaffolding is ready to collapse at any moment, but the sound is so captivating and out-of-control fun that the element of danger only adds to the excitement.
The Dismemberment Plan – !
McLusky – McLusky Do Dallas
Les Savy Fav – The Cat and the Cobra
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.