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Sex Church – Growing Over

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“Waking Up” properly announces the arrival of Sex Church’s second LP opening with screeching feedback and washes of menacing treble-laced guitar fuzz. Frustratingly however much of Growing Over finds the Vancouver band putting garage rock first and noise rock second — basically the opposite of what made them stand out from at least a hundred other bands doing the same thing. This may please some but to my ears it’s a regression. Still Growing Over is worth checking out.

When they’re not revelling in garage tropes (“Dull Light” the aptly titled “Treading Water”) Sex Church manages to nail the dank atmospheric qualities of mid-’80s Sonic Youth and Live Skull. Sex Church’s approach to songwriting however tends to range between Killed by Death -style garage punk and Jane From Occupied Europe -era Swell Maps all disaffected and detached. Sometimes this works sometimes it doesn’t.

The vocals are fairly nondescript Mark E. Smith-derived “every dude fronting a garage band from the past six years” variety except for album highlight “Beneath the Bottom” where vocalist Levon Olsen wails with all the intensity of Scratch Acid-era David Yow. These best moments of Growing Over merge the dusty ’80s noise-rock atmospherics with punk-rock drive making the “fun” garage moments seem out of place — these guys do “malaise” a lot better than “party.” Still given the wanton popularity of bash ’em smash ’em garage rock around these parts even the duller parts of Growing Over should find some loving ears.

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