Review: Mardou – Bitter Energy (Wasted Tapes, Mar 29)

Bitter Energy lives up to its title. Its taut grooves and hypnotic, repetitive song structures swathe a raucous vitality in skittering tension and pregnant anticipation, making its moments of catharsis all the more satisfying. The sextet is tangentially related to fellow Cincinnati band Crime of Passing, but though both acts are undoubtedly indebted to the golden age of post-punk, that’s where the similarities end. While the latter is all frigid coldwave suspense and brooding atmosphere, Mardou allows the vigor of a large band to really shine through in their songs, and even at their most controlled they toe the edge of joyous chaos. Things start off relatively reserved with the crisp, succinct rhythms of “Red Lights in the Sky,” but the facade of control breaks down in ecstatic disarray on tracks like “Csunya,” “Elephants,” and “Immersion,” with barely-held-together gang vocal choruses and an unhinged colorfulness that pairs well with the angularity that’s maintained throughout the album. It’s easy to underestimate Bitter Energy, what with its somewhat short length and inconspicuous beginning, but that would be a grave mistake. The tape is fun, memorable, and yet another fantastic entry in the ever expanding post-punk revival canon.