Garage / punk rock quartet Unnatural Helpers have released their second full length LP through Hardly Art in the form of Cracked Love & Other Drugs. With a running time of 25 minutes spread over 15 tracks, it’s fair to say Unnatural Helpers are quick to the get to the point. Some might even say abrupt. In fact, in the time it’s taken me to write this first paragraph, I’ve listened to the album the whole way through. I think that says more about me than it does them.
Hailing from Seattle, home of various prestigious garage rock bands from over the years, comparisons are naturally being drawn to similar groups that share the same sound, particularly Mudhoney or The Fastbacks. There is definitely an element of truth to these comparisons, what with the same dirty messed up guitar riffs, the tight drumming and the raw vocals. A more contemporary comparison of Dean Whitmore’s vocals in my mind would be toward Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington. They share a natural, visceral sound that seems comparable.
Unnatural Helpers are all about the hooks and the riffs on this record. Tracks like ‘Useful Things’ are practically 100% hook, which would be a problem, were it any longer than 1:02. At times throughout the punchy 25 minutes it takes to digest this record, I cannot help but think of Glasgow’s underground indie kings, The Yummy Fur. ‘The Truth About You’s prominent wandering bass line, or perhaps Whitmore’s playful delivery on ‘Sunshine / Pretty Girls’ strike a chord from my childhood of listening to John McKeown’s infamous anti-pop ballads.
It’s a dirty little record full of messy guitar riffs and harsh vocals constantly pounding it’s ways towards the incredibly short running time of 25:57. You barely have enough time to enjoy it before it’s time to press play again. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Words: Neil Phillips