Gum Country - Gum Country
(2017 Lollipop Records)
Ever wonder why each stick of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum is imprinted with its signature tread? I'll let you in on a secret. Each morning, when the pavement swells with yesterday's rainfall, Courtney Garvin's guitar feedback flattens the sucralose highways of Gum Country, prepping product for harvest. Tire tracks dig crisscrossing patterns into the steamrolled road - Connor Mayer rides in tow, reaching out of his trailer to reap chewy rectangles and wrap them in bitcrushed drum loops.
Gum Country's self-titled LP is as pliant as you'd expect. Opener "Brain Song" stretches its lead keyboard melody about a rattling rhythm section like a maypole's ribbon - despite its trudging Sonic Youth dissonance, the track tinged with Y2K pop sensibility. It conjures visions of pale yellows and crayola purples forming abstract blobs in space as cartoon robots turn midair somersaults. Grinding like pebbles beneath a shoe, power chords form a progression as conversely iconic/formless as a Gamecube's controller: molding to the shape of your hands, or in this case, your ears. Fold it between your molars: "Brain Song" is meant to munch on aimlessly as its flavor coats your palate.
At the heart of the record is Gum Country's most solid offering, "Pills". a twee deconstruction of Swervedriver's shoegazey psychedelia. Garvin's vocals are much more whispery and buried than those she contributes to her more well-known project, The Courtneys. The refracted outline of a coin at the bottom of a swimming pool, they are barely perceptible - a beautiful object just out of reach. Accumulated reverb ripples as distortion and snares land cannonball dives on the surface.
It's tough to tell whether Gum Country's instrumentation is coffee or chamomile. Are its bursts of distortion units of punk vigor or sluggish drones? Depending on the occasion, the brain may perceive them as either. "Woah Oh" can be a mosh-inducing anthem. "I Don't Stay Up" can encourage you to agree with its title. No matter which beverage you'd rather compare the duo to, though, you can be certain that their output is as trusty and warm as anything served in a mug.