Shooting at Unarmed Men - 'Pathos Ate Bathos'
Shooting at Unarmed Men's second album Yes! Tinnitus! is not really as good as last year's third effort, Triptych, but it's a testament to the strength of that album (my favourite of 2008) that Yes! Tinnitus! is still pretty great. In parts it benefits from being able to go back from Triptych in order to appreciate it better; in others it has a certain charm of its own.
The standout first song 'Pathos ate Bathos' starts off with Shooting at Unarmed Men's typical rhythm-heavy songwriting, post-hardcore guitar with a few spaghetti-western flourishes and a frantic but relatively simple beat. Four minutes of rocking out in this vein make for a badass introduction to the album, plus a little bit of start-stop dynamism tacked on at the end as well.
Writing about Triptych on Geek Down's Best of 2008: Rock Albums, josephlovesit referenced the Jesus Lizard and this band's "confident assholism"; likewise, the next couple songs here feature a misogynistic God and a capitalist-acquisitive cowboy. It's a snarling, intense bridge to the next really great song on the album, the single 'Girls Music' (post of the promo 7" here).
Rather like (the ever-unavoidable comparison) a Mclusky b-side put into overdrive, or "a great twisted pop song" as I described it before, 'Girls Music' is the fun, inventive side of Shooting at Unarmed Men which condenses down post-hardcore creativity. The following songs stretch things out a bit more, from the shoutalong "D-I-S-M-O-U-N-T" of 'I Am United Nations' to the slow, ratcheting melodicism of 'Pat Yourself On The Proverbial ("In the summer... she blisters... and her skin peels"). At this point, despite the garage-y immediacy of 'I Cry For No Man' and 'Get On Out And Come Right In', the album begins to drag somewhat; indeed slowed down almost unnaturally for the closer, 'In Flight Instructions Are A Joke, Say I' with its rousing chorus "she drank the whole bottle down".
Still, this is definitely a Shooting at Unarmed Men album as you would recognise from Triptych, if not quite of the same quality. Jon Chapple's voice, both literally and figuratively - i.e. musically - speaking, in this latter-day post-punk, ex-Welsh post-hardcore band deserves to be heard a lot more.
Shooting at Unarmed Men on eMusic
a rather brilliant and suitably disturbing 'Girls Music' video: