REVIEW: Meat Wave—‘The Incessant’
Posted: by Steven Lalonde
I always felt like Meat Wave were a one of a kind band. I don’t think I can stress this enough. When I first heard their 2015 release Delusion Moon, I was hooked right away into what was easily the most addictive and fun LP to be released that year. During this time however, and even before, frontman Chris Sutter was dealing with relationship issues. What began when he was 12 had now ended in 2014 when he was 24. He apparently equated the first time being single in his adult life as being an “Amish Kid on Rumspringa.” This led to a very confusing time for the then 24-year-old, much of which is reflected on Delusion Moon. During the touring of 2015, Sutter would keep a notebook and document the different emotions and anxieties he was experiencing in large part due to the break up. Sutter noticed that one term kept coming up, and that term he would describe as “…this overwhelming, oncoming emotion”, would also be the title of the album that would end up being a work of reflection and self-improvement known as The Incessant.
While many will remember the bands previous releases as being somewhat goofy, fun and addicting-as-hell stylistically, much of the lyrical themes were driven towards a judgemental attitude towards society. This time around, on The Incessant, Sutter did a 180 and wrote lyrics pertaining to his own self-judgement. From beginning to end, Sutter confronts and opens up about his fear of the future and being the victim of his fractious emotions. In fact, during the Delusion Moon tour, Sutter had reportedly approached his bandmates with the idea that he wanted to forget what he’d written and start over. Even though they respected his decision, Sutter states “I was uncomfortable to share songs with people that reflected on a destructive period in my life”, and , in what I consider to be a courageous move, he managed to convince himself to stick it out with his new songs and attempt to grow as a songwriter and a person. Guess what. It worked out for the best.
Released through SideOneDummy Records, the album starts off with “To Be Swayed”, a song that basically starts as if it were already half way through. No gimmicky intro, no drawn out build-up, just a kick in the teeth kinda start that you wouldn’t expect from a band that hasn’t released an album in two years. But then again, Meat Wave aren’t your typical band. All throughout, Sutter is hard on himself, as his tense harsh vocals shine on tracks such as “Tomosaki” and “Mask” – a true Meat Wave-esque track – as he reveals his vulnerabilities and his selfishness in times of running away from his responsibility. The track “Leopard Print Ski Jacket” is just about that in fact, where Sutter narrates taking a leopard print ski jacket and “getting away from everything in a very selfish and wrong way”.
As I mentioned before, Meat Wave have a distinct sound. It’s like a sharp, but choppy sound that’s held together by a raw snarly voice that’s unique in its own respect. Their style is of a band that you wouldn’t assume could write and produce a record that is as thoroughly layered emotionally as The Incessant is; but they did. And honestly, it’s invigorating because as exposed and genuine as it is, it’s still a loud heap of Meat Wave fun — further advancing their ‘one of a kind’ sound. For a 3 piece band, they manage to pack a whole lot structurally into a 36 minute album. Bassist Joe Gac was not the one to produce the album, having produced some fo the band’s previous work. Instead, the band took advantage of the opportunity to work with famed producer and engineer Steve Albini – a dream come true for the Chicago natives. It’s evident on tracks such as “Run You Out” and “Glass Teeth” that Albini left his mark. The sound is more well-rounded and fuller in a sense, something that wasn’t necessarily present or better yet, prevalent, on their previous works.
The album closes with two important tracks, “Birdland” and “Killing The Incessant”, which are fitting in regards to Sutter coming to terms and defeating the anxiety driven emotions that plagued him for so long. Things appear to have come full circle for Sutter and Meat Wave: “Here’s to killing, The incessant, I don’t need it, Here’s to killing, The incessant is defeated” as the final track ends with a soft acoustic melody which Sutter describes as “The acousitc ditty at the end is the sigh of relief, a moving-forward of sorts”.
In the end, Meat Wave deserve all the credit for writing their most in-depth and complete work to date. They embarked on a direction that they’ve never before ventured through, and they nailed it. It’s not just the fact that they put their all into it, but they didn’t sacrifice what made them who they are to begin with. I know it’s easy to sit here and say that all bands go through something like this at some point, but when a band you love, does it in such a relatable and courageous way, it really makes a difference.
– Steven Lalonde