During the past seven years, and across a selection of tapes, EPs and LPs, Whatever Brains have built a deep and varied catalog, following an arc from their origins as an off-kilter punk band to, it seems, a final destination as art-pop iconoclasts. The band's latest, the third installment in Sorry State Records' North Carolina Singles Series, is both departure and portent, arriving just ahead of a fourth and final LP.
With Whatever Brains essentially over already, this release feels like a perfect farewell. The A-side, "An Object," is a characteristically brash and anxious track, building a stringy, single-note guitar riff and a cavalcade of synths into a catchy four and a half minutes. The Brains have always divined pop hooks from abrasive avant-punk sounds; as they increasingly swapped guitars for keyboards, detours into psychedelia and experimental electronica provided surprising complements to that sturdy foundation. It's all here.
After that familiarly weird first cut, the Brains switch gears. The B-side's faithful but warped cover of Lee Hazlewood's bittersweet "My Autumn's Done Come" sends the band off in fine fashion. Reportedly recorded over the original take, which was then erased, this rendition positions an elegant drone beneath several voices, all low in the mix and blurring together. The effect is appropriately skewed—like Hazlewood played from a sun-melted cassette—but sweetly communal, too.Label: Sorry State Records