Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl
What is there to say when you’re asked to review a new record from New York City no wave legends Bush Tetras? Well, you say, “Yes, of course!” And you immediately think back to college nights drinking trash wine and smoking cigs with your roommates in your apartment while watching the washy, sepia-toned VHS video for “Too Many Creeps,” listening to the wonky, woozy, mesmerizing, and endlessly catchy song pulsing along with its steadfast rhythms and jangly hooks. You think about how much you’ve changed since then, and the things you would tell your younger self if you could. Then you listen to They Live In My Head. You hear the band’s changes, too. You begin to listen more deeply to these new lyrics and sounds, searching, trying to connect to the music. This is not what you fell in love with as a kid, but it has its own eclectic confessional palette. It brings something more modern that die-hard fans can grow with.
They Live In My Head starts with “Bird on a Wire,” maybe my favorite of the three singles with its spacey, dubby guitar riffs fragmenting over taught mid-tempo backbeat and dialed basslines. The vocals are front and center with a sweet but raw cadence. This song feels akin to the group’s early sounds. The second single, “Thing I Put Together,” has more of a sludgy, dirge-y 90’s thing happening with personal lyrics, almost like it’s Bush Tetras’s take on an Alice In Chains or Hole song. Title track “They Live in My Head” starts with an off-kilter twangy acoustic guitar and is soon accompanied by a full band, building into the sped-up chorus which is honestly catchy as hell. This one feels like a mad mix of a Pavement song and a Jim Carroll Band tune, an homage to classic punk. The tempo is a little bipolar, but it fits the song. The rest of the album follows suit, a mixed bag of styles and sounds, as if the band members are simultaneously relearning and reinventing who they are together as Bush Tetras. Ultimately, They Live In My Head has glimpses of the Bush Tetras of the past, but it’s not that. It is, however, a new piece of history—a component of a body of work, a new layer exposed by time’s stalwart waves.