For reasons well documented that we are not going to touch on here, notverynicecream (Hassle Records) the sophomore record from Bristolian avant-garde noise merchants Phoxjaw, finally sees the light of day some six months after first scheduled. And focusing solely on the music, is this a record that was worth the wait? In a nutshell … Yes!
Written during the pandemic and recorded in the darkest depths of Cornwall, the record develops the quirky scattergun style showcased on their debut Royal Swan (2020), with all manner of influences both heavy and melodic thrown into the melting pot, and whipped up into a fusion of indie, dark pop and alternative metal goodness.
The serene landscape of the ocean view from their studio may well have influenced the albums overture ‘Evermore’, a calm before the storm if ever there was one, with a soothing synth and trippy vocals building to the first clattering of noise rock with ‘Apples’, with an off-kilter riff providing a blend of UK Indie-scuzz with an early Marilyn Manson meets Mr. Bungle vibe.
‘Icecreamwitch’ throws a little Arctic Monkeys into the mixer before a heavier chorus with a staccato riff, blasts in with the song going fully off the rails and into The Dillinger Escape Plan territory with quick changes of style, which again are fully apparent on ‘Lastmancalledjohn’. Elsewhere Phoxjaw allow their indie influences to flourish, with sharp blasts of The Killers, Bloc Party, and Biffy Clyro all apparent on the likes of ‘Tortoise’, ‘Dancingtrees’, ‘Shotgunlipstick’ and ‘Sungazer’, while the band then hone clear inspiration from Joy Division and Bowie on ‘Thesaddestsongever’.
But it’s when Phoxjaw go HEAVY that the album really comes alive. ‘Knives’ begins with a slow and jarring guitar, before the filthiest riff of the record drops, sludgy down-tuned guitars with a demented swirling synth providing the soundtrack to a nightmarish carnival. While ‘Thelastmackerel’ provides a riff that will absolutely destroy the floor when these guys hit the road for their summer UK headline tour, and will be a real weapon in their arsenal as it climaxes in a beautiful cacophony.
And finally, ‘Serpentsdripfromtheskies’ plays out in a deep hypnotic haze, darkly down-tempo in places and again drawing comparisons to Manson as Phoxjaw round the record off in style. If you’re looking for something a little different and music that will bend your mind into knots, then notverynicecream will almost certainly hit the spot.
Buy the album here:
8 / 10