Ipecac Recordings – 24th February 2017
Some project ae just so wild and so awesome that they can’t fail. Crystal Fairy is one. The fact that it’s out on Ipecac should be a big clue. Essentially another Melvins offshoot, this project features King Buzzo and Dale Crover (Melvins and myriad mental offshoots), with Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes), Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (Mars Volta, At the Drive In). If you haven’t already encountered Le Butcherettes, our life is sadly lacking and you need to do something about it, immediately.
Le Butcherettes are one of the most ferociously angular, choppy, abrasive and truly awesome contemporary exemplars of the no-wave ethos, and Terri Gender Bender is a fearsome and fantastic front woman: the perfect foil to the sludge with a grin craziness of The Melvins. Omar Rodrguez-Lopez (Mars Volta, At the Drive In) is hardly a weak link here.
As the press release recounts, ‘The whole idea for Crystal Fairy began when The Melvins and Le Butcherettes toured together and The Melvins started doing the song “Rebel Girl” with Teri at the end of their set.’
The album erupts with a whack! Think! Chug-a-chug thundrball punk-tinged rock racket of Chiseler’. It crackles. It fizzes. But what’s perhaps unexpected is just how accessible it is, courtesy of its strong, melody-led chorus. It also has that early 80s vibe and the poke of a small-town pub gig or a demo tape recorded by an ultra-proficient provincial band who deserve a wide audience. That’s not a criticism of Crystal Fairy, but of the industry, at least as it was.
Rock cliché is never far away on this album: ‘Necklace of Divorce’ wheels in AC/CDisms and Led Zeppelinisms galore, but there’s a savviness to the delivery that hints at a certain knowingness, a play on the clichés being stirred in and churned around in the mix. The result is alchemy, and an album brimming with choppy tunes that explode with full-throttle drive, and build the dynamics with passages of tension-building stealth. Grunge classic? Yeah, and so much more
‘Moth Tongue’ simply sounds like Terri Gender Bender fronting The Melvins playing one of their poppier tracks. As such, it’s ace, and ‘Bent Teeth’ is simply scorching. As is the album as a whole: raucous rambunctious, it combined churning, gritty riffs with wild-eyed histrionic vocals. As much as I’m a sucker for a meaty guitar, I’m even more one to be pulled in by a vocal delivery that borders on the psychotic, and Terri’s go that absolutely nailed. But then, as the title track attests, the foursome can also nail a full-throttle post-punk pop tune: think Blondie, think PJ Harvey, delivered with energy and guts and raw sex. Belting as the backing is, Terri makes it: she sounds dangerous, intense, precarious. While the basslines tear through your guts, she tears through your very soul.
Crystal Fairy is the supergroup every supergroup should aspire to: the embodiment of rock ‘n’ roll awesome, they’ve got the full works going on here.