The Death Set - Michel Poiccard Album Review
'I wanna take this tape, and blow up ya fuckin' stereo!'. Michel Poiccard's opening track is five seconds long, and consists entirely of a band member growling those words. It's a statement of intent, and it's also the calm before the storm: five seconds of the band limbering up, pawing at the ground, and staring fixedly into the middle distance. Then they put their head down and charge. Thirty five minutes and seventeen tracks of party-punk later, you're left feeling a little shaken but keen to put the record on again. This is a band with a unswervable desire to rock the hell out. They're the bull, you're the china shop.
This is music with roots in eighties hardcore punk, in the furious pummel of Bad Brains' 'Banned in D.C.' and the brattishness of very early Beastie Boys records. Each track sees the band getting from A to B with the minimum of fuss, drums crashing, guitars swarming all over the listener, vocals sardonic and mocking. They're unafraid to bring elements of electro and hip hop - Spank Rock guests on '7pm Woke Up An Hour Ago' - but this most definitely isn't a boundary-pushing album; instead, it's an LP which revels in the body-moving potential of fast, loud guitar music.
All of the above may come as a slight surprise given the band's former guitarist Beau Velasco was found dead back prior to the recording of the album. Michel Poiccard features a song named after Velasco, and it's also difficult not to see references to the group's sad loss in the relatively reflective, Les Savy Fav-esque 'We Are Going Anywhere Man'. Otherwise, the group seem intent on remembering Velasco by playing the same balls-out, cathartic music they created when he was in the group.
It's difficult to find fault with an album which admirably achieves everything it sets out to achieve inside of such a short running time; it's fun, it's fast, it's furious, and it's catchy. The one element which may be a sticking point for some listeners is the band's devotion to arched-eyebrow, knowingly smug hipster humour, which shows through in many of the lyrics and song titles. The group's press photos show them posing sleazily with naked fans; this is a little too reminiscent of the likes of Motley Crue, and if anything the suggestion that this is just another ironic in-joke makes it worse: hey look, they're saying, we may look like sexist scumbags, but it's all for the LOLz. If you can detach the music from these irritating trappings, though, you're in for a fun time.