Who: Los Angeles-based Flat Worms clean up a tad for their latest LP.
Sound: California fuzz-noise punks get special treatment from recording engineer Steve Albini, with mixed results.
TFN Final Take: Part of my joy of listening to Flat Worms albums was the sharp post-punk songs rising to the occasion through a steady layer of fuzz and noise. Their EPs and singles always caught my ear and kept me engaged with their releases.
Antarctica offers some of that joy and unbridled post-punk attitude in small doses, but the majority of the album feels more subdued and less spontaneous. The fuzz is turned down and the songs are presented more straightforwardly.
This approach works for some of the better tracks. “The Aughts”, “Market Forces”, “Via”, “Condo Colony” and “Wet Concrete” are all strong enough to stand out on their own merits, but that’s only five tracks on an 11-track LP.
The rest of the six tracks are okay but lack any real punch. I felt like I was skipping these songs repeatedly. Earlier in the year, I was excited to read that Albini was involved with Antarctica. Instead of ramping up the intensity, Albini’s production has softened their edge, declawed them and left everything feeling, well…flat.
It’s not bad, but the album just doesn’t have the impact that I was hoping for. Antarctica is a good Flat Worms record, it’s just not a great one.
– Reviewed by Daniel Taylor