When presented with a raucous album crammed with snarling, grunge-infused tracks – from a band signed to Sub Pop no less – you would be forgiven for thinking you had been transported back to the early-90s; especially considering Sub Pop notably shifted direction after the turn of the millennium, putting the ‘Seattle sound’ to one side in favour of output from bands like Fleet Foxes and Flight of the Conchords. However, recent signings such as Ontario’s Metz and now Seattle’s own So Pitted, have brought the filthy, pounding heaviness back to the label in a big way.
One of the most enjoyable things about So Pitted’s debut, neo, is that it genuinely doesn’t sound like the early-90s have come back to haunt you. You can throw all the Nirvana and Mudhoney comparisons at it that you want, but it throbs with a freshness and freedom that a lot of the modern grunge-revival scene simply doesn’t have and a nonlinear, experimental approach that allows it to build on, rather than emulate, the work of the previous generation.
From the moment that opener ‘cat scratch’ blasts out of your speakers (and yes, it definitely is an album deserving of every watt your speakers have to offer) neo doesn’t let up, relentlessly throwing angular guitars into crashing drums, spewing dissonance in a ferocious manner. Despite the free-flowing nature of many of the tracks, there is an underlying catchiness to a fair few of them that becomes obvious the more the album is listened to; one of the best examples being ‘holding the void’, one of the band’s earliest songs that hurtles along in a frantically frustrated style.
In J.G. Ballard’s seminal novel High-Rise, the residents of a tower block find different ways to deal with the breakdown of society. Some retreat to what they know, trying to preserve their way of life for as long as possible; whereas others seem to come alive in the midst of the collapse, riding the waves of destruction and revelling in the animalistic urges that sweep over them.
In a world that is increasingly reflecting the tower block in High-Rise, it makes perfect sense that some bands will take the same approach as many have before them, treading well-worn paths in their attempts to distract from the meaningless nature of much of modern life. Others, however, will inevitably thrive in the paranoia and chaos, using them as building blocks to construct works of cathartic brilliance. So Pitted have strongly hinted to us that they fall into the latter category with neo, an incredibly invigorating slice of highly-strung urgency.