Chicago’s Disappears have been an interesting, if sometimes frustrating band to follow. Their garage rock sound, typically drenched in reverb, tremolo and plenty of distortion is fairly straightforward on the surface. But listen closely and there are subtle nods to everything from Krautrock, deathrock, shoegaze, psychedelia and funk. Suddenly they become a monstrously groovy prospect. Their first two albums, Lux and Guider set them apart as a band to watch. But the momentum was somewhat derailed thanks to a lacklustre third outing on Pre Language.
Fast-forward to the band’s fourth full-length album Era and the band have once again finely tuned their cornucopia of influences into one of the most interesting and accomplished rock albums of the year.
As hinted at on their Kone EP earlier in the year, the band are revitalised and full of energy despite the loss of Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) due to touring conflicts. But the introduction of Noah Ledger (Anatomy Of Habit) to the line-up has solidified a renewed sense of purpose that is quite tangible on Era.
Opening the album with the distortion-drenched ‘Girl’, the band ease the listener into the record. It lacks the sophistication of the previous EP, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable opener that will no doubt serve them well live. ‘Power’ on the other-hand breaks out the dark, slightly gothic grooves the likes of The Soft Moon have recently perfected for an incredibly sexy and catchy song. The ambitious and cavernous ‘Ultra’ is a great centrepiece for the album with its repeating rhythms and subtle grooves that plays nicely to Brian Case‘s sinister baritone.
Despite the missing figure of Shelley, his influence still looms over the band and tangibly so on a track like ‘Weird House’. Like ‘Power’ before it, it is darkly groovy and a real testament to the growing strength of Case as the undoubted leader of the band now. He even goes into Public Image Limited waters with the new wave romp that is ‘Elite Typical’ before bringing back the sinister grooves for the album’s closer ‘New House’.
This is a strong return to form for a band that should by all rights only ever be on the up. Case as a songwriter has come into his own, effectively making his visions for the band manifest with ease on Era. Let’s hope he can continue to build on this.
Sean M. Palfrey