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The Routes always seem to be do something different stylistically on every record they release; from their largely R&B influenced debut album “Left My Mind”, to the playful US garage drenched “Alligator”, to the Strummin’ Mental madness of the “Instrumentals” album, right up until “Skeletons” in 2016 which saw them on more of a modern garage punk trip. It doesn’t seem to matter what they do, and who plays in the band; it still unmistakably sounds like The Routes .
“In This Perfect Hell”, the fifth album by The Routes, brings you ten original songs. No filler and no covers. From the start, you can tell it’s not going to be your stereotypical garage album. This time The Routes seemed have strayed far from your average garage bands comfort zone. They have stripped everything right down in the playing department, with leader Chris Jack playing pretty much everything apart from the drums.
Photo: Yoko Ono
The stripping down seems to have the opposite effect, of creating a huge, thick, heavy wall of sound. The nasty Japanese fuzz pedals, and very simple guitar leads stab through the wall, and stick into your brain. It’s not exactly your typical garage, it’s not exactly psych; it’s not exactly any one thing in particular. Is this a mutant musical manifestation of Chris Jack’s musical taste? One wonders if he opened the floodgates on his musical tastes and just let it all come through.
The brain penetrating heavy fuzz, and Maureen Tucker-esque rhythm of opening track “Thousand Forgotten Dreams”, instantly tells you we are again on a new, different tangent. The hypnotic guitars are actually not unreminiscent of early Spacemen 3 or Jesus and Mary Chain. “Worry” sounds like it could be the cover of a long lost Tamrons acetate, being played by The Fall. You have catchy up-tempo lyrically playful numbers like “Peeling Face” and “Housework In My Head”, sounding like The Kinks meet The Modern Lovers, meet Guided By Voices; “Something Slipped Through My Window” and “Oblivious”, again see the band in fine songwriting form, with The Routes Acetone organ resurrected.
Photo: Yoko Ono
The Routes take a heavy trip to GONN land with “Make You Hate Me More”, yep they always have one “Fuck You” anthem without fail (without actually swearing in the song of course, because the lyrics have more than enough hate in them already). One wonders how many flashbacks were channeled to create the acid tinged freakout that is “No Permanence”? Is this garage punk meets Can’s Mother Sky? You could imagine The Lemon Drops singing “In Years Gone By”, before being having their minds blown away by the trip that is “Perfect Hell”. Are you doing well living in this Perfect Hell?
Reading what I’ve written you’d think “That’s ridiculous, how could all that go together, and sound like one band, or one album?”. The answer is; it’s so well done, and so subtle. That my friends is the genius of The Routes. Everything they do sounds like The Routes, and they sound AMAZING!
The Dirty Water Club started in October 1996 in the Tufnell Park neighbourhood of north London, at a venue called The Boston. The club's name is derived from The Standells' 1966 hit 'Dirty Water' which glorifies the US city of Boston, Massachusetts.
Past performers have included The White Stripes (voted by Q Magazine as one of the top 10 gigs of all time, Mojo one of the top 30 and Kerrang one of the top 100!), The Gories, NOBUNNY, Kid Congo Powers (from the Cramps), The Fleshtones, Billy Childish, Radio Birdman, The Dirtbombs, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, The 126.96.36.199's, The Horrors and The Brian Jonestown Massacre to name just a few. The club has also seen some original '60s performers, such as The Monks, ? and the Mysterians, Kim Fowley, Sky Saxon, GONN, Michael Davis of the MC5 and more grace its stage.
Their in-house record label, Dirty Water Records, is one of the leading garage/beat/(real) R&B labels in the world.