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Purling Hiss - Public Service Announcement

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Artist: Purling Hiss

Album: Public Service Announcement

Label: Woodsist

Review date: Dec. 3, 2010


Purling Hiss - "Don't Even Try It" (Public Service Announcement)


Hey Purling Hiss, don’t change your story yet.

With two albums in 2009, this band has quickly made a name for themselves as purveyors of lengthy guitar hurricanes that don’t feel long winded. Public Service Announcement and Hissteria are built around repetitive riffing. The vocals are faint, but the records are bracing listens that seem to have been made by cranking the amps and finding a coupla chords that let them lock into endless choogle. The tracks are more than jams, though, even if they’ve got the running time and trippiness. There’s some secret songwriting knowledge that gets buried in the final sound, a sense of contrast and tension. Loud and freaky all the time doesn’t actually work if it’s played loud and freaky all the time. Mike Polizze (under all that interplay, this is basically a one-man project) knows how to give enough structure to his drones to make them work hard.

But for a band that’s still building a profile by word-of-mouth, I figure we were owed at least another year and a half of buzz and feedback before showing they could do something else. Public Service Announcement interrupts the story to demonstrate that Polizze can make tamer, more typical songs. The hiss on this record isn’t from scorching volume; it’s from the tape recorder on the end of the bed. Cassette tape provides enough blur that we still can’t make out the words sung, but there’s enough delineation to confirm that Polizze is a natural. He’s got the feel. Sparse or intricate, airy or heavy, his stuff moves. He’s got range. “Ojos Locos” plays the soft rock games of Ariel Pink, with cruddy sound quality making the happy refrains feel like out-of-reach memoires. “Malice in Wonderland” is nothing but small-amplifier feedback sounding huge. It is the sort of pure noise that’s interesting, but more fun for the experimenter than the listener.

This is a record of snippets and sketches. The structures are more conventional, yet many of the tracks don’t have as much tension as his blowouts. The opener, “Run from the City” does the best job of working in vocals and still showing off chops. As a whole, though, Public Service Announcement doesn’t add up to anything that would have intrigued the uninitiated, even if it shows another dimension to the project. If the word-of-mouth continues, this will be the record where the conversation goes:

“Well, I heard this one album, and I don’t get what the fuss is about."

“If it’s the one where the guy on the cover is sitting, you gotta hear the other ones.”

By Ben Donnelly

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