One could argue that California duo Dub Thompson exist in a bubble, which might not be a good thing if you’re talking about self-serving politicians or celebretard socialites but when applied to musicians is often something of a backhanded compliment. Matt Pulos and Evan Laffer appear blissfully ignorant to the fact that Big Black and Pere Ubu, say, aren’t exactly what you’d call natural bedfellows, or that given the chance This Heat and the John Spencer Blues Explosion probably wouldn’t play together all that nicely; likewise, if they care at all that their particular brand of in-jokey humour – titling their 8-song debut LP 9 Songs, thereby causing some reviewers (ahem) to waste half an hour scouring their computer for the “missing” track (not cool guys) – isn’t to everyone’s taste, they do a damned good job of hiding it. Anything goes in DT world, it would seem, even when it doesn’t, with genres and influences pushed forcibly together like pieces from opposing ends of a jigsaw puzzle, transforming the bigger picture into an abstract collage that is all the more intriguing for its perversion of the original guideline image. More often than not this tactic works surprisingly well: opener “Hayward” flits niftily between thrashy hardcore and sun-dazed psych; spacey FX are swathed in dub reverb and set to a thumping hop hop beat on the bluesy “Dograces“; “No Time”‘s reggae skank gear-shifts effortlessly in and out of motorik Krautrock; and “Mono” manages to straddle at least three decades of New York noise by marrying a skipping ESG groove and Sonic Youth guitar squall and birthing something that sounds very much like one of LCD Soundsystem’s scuzzier freakouts. With both members still in their late teens, it’s quite possible they won’t even know who John Peel was, but 9 Songs at times feels like one of the legendary DJ’s famously eclectic (and shambolic) radio shows, Pulos and Laffer insatiably absorbing any and all kind of new sounds and excitedly regurgitating them in a manner that lacks pretension or shame. Admittedly, enthusiasm alone is not enough to make a good band great, but for the most part Dub Thompson have made a fine record that sounds like music lovers playing for their own amusement, going off road without a map and not really caring where they end up, and to burst their bubble for having fun just wouldn’t seem fair.
9 Songs is out now via Dead Oceans; check out “No Time” below.