Giddy Motors

Make It Pop!

(Fat Cat; 2003)

By Amir Nezar | 4 October 2007

If this was a review just of Manu Ros (as the obviously low-budget packaging of Make It Pop details, "drums/triggers/bass"), then you'd be looking at an upper 80 percent rating. However, the Giddy Motors are an actual group rather than a one man show, and I have to review the whole package. Which I will do gladly, because despite not being as uniformly amazing as Ros, Giddy Motors en entier have made the best, most gleefully reckless noisepunk that I've heard since Liars' They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument On Top.

Ros deserves special mention because he's absolutely fucking stellar. In song after song of shifting dynamic, segueing movements, and bristling, explosive aural energy, his pounding, nay, hell-out-of-the-gates percussion is played with an exactitude that enables the rest of the group (loosely, two other members, but mainly Gaverick de Vis) to freely cartwheel between jagged guitar lines and insane vocals. If Giddy Motors didn't have this kind of superlative rhythmic foundation, none of what they do so well could stand. In fact, every band wishes they had such a drummer/percussionist. The resulting assured sound, over the course of eight songs, reveals a band who not only know what they're doing, but don't give a fuck what you or anyone else cares.

In order to place the song in the general Greater Music Scheme, it is important to evaluate them with an understanding of what they're working with. The goal here is minimalist, tweaked rock-punk without an ounce of consideration for typical song structure. The instruments are largely only played by de Vis and Ros, though Gordon Ashdown is listed as the "live bassist," and the occasional sax is employed, with an appearance or two by strings. But the ethic here is extremely similar to noisepunk brethren Liars; the two bands' apparent lack of any desire other than to tinker with and abuse their instruments is uncannily liberating. Make It Pop hurtles toward mid-song catharses on the wheels of punching, stuttering bass, and of course the furious beat à la Ros, with the entire concoction lit on fire by the infernal, squealing guitar of de Vis. Other times it ambles through minimalist jazz-inspired movements only to peter out through a handful of scattered, mini-climaxes. And in one genuine, utter surprise --the out-of-nowhere "Venus Medalist" --the guys trade in their yelps (vocal and guitar) and ass-kicking beats for a smooth, stunning piece of cello-accentuated, pure melody, acoustic guitar. The nature of its inclusion seems to echo Liars' "This dust makes that mud," with the infamous 15 minute-long loop at the end of their LP, a sort of creative deviation. But "Venus Medalist" is less of a slap in the face than a beautiful piece of evidence that, more than anything else, these guys know their shit. That they can so easily shift gears from their cacophonous sound into acoustic guitar, lovely cymbal brushes, and rolling bass, is not only shocking within the context of the rest of the album, but pleasantly so.

Of course, the track is placed second-to-last, with the longest piece on the album, "Whirled By Curses," left as a final, mind-rocking reminder of what these guys are really here to do: whatever they want, and in vicious fashion. Starting with de Vis' incomprehensible whispers over his own tearing riff, the song kicks into a tribal intensity, complete with bongos, and de Vis returning to his paranoid-schizophrenic yelps and screams over his own similar-minded guitar. Tempo changes shift in with expert ease, bass leads take over the blithering guitar, space is created and then contracted, killer riffs write their damage on the walls in broken plaster, and it's all mixed up again.

If the album as a whole suffers from anything, it might be a lack of concrete direction, largely within the internal structure of a couple of its songs. The sense of surface chaos, in a couple of these tracks, threatens at times to overtake their usually tight nature, occasionally making Make It Pop wear heavy on your attention. In essence, by eschewing traditional song structure with such abandon, Giddy Motors occasionally are left with songs that don't hold quite as well over the course of their many variations as I would like. "Bottle Opener," a song whose individual parts are stellar, suffers from a little seam-splitting in its overall cohesion, so that when it's finished the stopping point seems nearly arbitrary; it's as if the guys just said, "ok, that's enough tinkering, I think we can end it there." On the other hand "Hit Car," by keeping its rhythm section cohesive, also keeps a killer song together until its nuclear explosion of a finale. "Cranium Crux," replete with Fugazi's liquid, eerie guitar tones and builds, works in similar fashion, keeping that cohesion that just barely slips in other places.

But such is the nature of such ambitious punk projects; an ambition to simply do what you want will of course yield results that are not completely perfect. But what you can count on is that, despite its occasional flaws, Make It Pop is not a blip in the radar, but, with any luck, an indicator as to the direction of the flagrant, alive thing that is punk rock. It won't kick Sum 41 off of the radio any time soon, of course. But when kids singing about teenage girlfriends evaporate, behind their airy nothingness you'll see the gritty, triumphant shadows of guys like Giddy Motors, with the real mortar and brick of punk's future in their hands, and maybe a couple missing teeth in their "fuck-you" smiles.