Ruining It For Everybody
26 July 2011
by Hugh Platt
Although it’s been a month since Ruining It For Everybody, the second album from Louisiana-bred noiseniks iwrestledabearonce, was unleashed upon a widely-unsuspecting public, the words needed to polish off this review have eluded me until now. The simple fact of the matter is that I’ve been unable to sit down and absorb Ruining It For Everybody in the precise and collected manner I usually apply in order to assess and evaluate a record up for review.
Let me tell you why this is a good thing.
Ruining It For Everybody has filled up the cracks around every other album I’ve listened to over the last two months. As an album in itself, I find the task of swallowing Ruining It Whole whole to be nigh on impossible. Even the idea of tackling it in stages, breaking off every few tracks to get my proverbial breath back and my mind in order before diving in for the next batch of songs, I consider to be an equally difficult and disagreeable way of reviewing this album. Given that Ruining It For Everybody doesn’t even stretch to 32 minutes of running time, you’d think that this was a damning inditement of the A.D.D. nature (I wonder how many times that particular metaphor has been levelled at iwabo?) of the band’s songwriting abilities. But no, the fact that this album forces me to tackle it piecemeal – one track at at time, over a prolonged period of time – actually works in its favour.
Let’s take the opening track, ‘Next Visible Delicious’ – in the first minute alone, it’s flipped from glassy electronics, to stabs of steely tech metal, then into a jazz-inspired cooldown. By then time the track finally calls time two minutes later, it’s taken us through the gutter troughs of the most unwieldy kind of deathcore and a passage or two of balance-restoring groove metal, all while hiding the occasional bar of euphoric trance in amongst the mixture just to keep you off-balance. Unlike the gimmicky use of samples on their debut (which more often than not came across as deliberately over-exaggerated audio winks to let us know that the band were, y’know, deliberately fucking with us for the hell of it), the changes of pace and atmosphere on Ruining It For Everyone manage to underpin sense of internal structure within each track together that simply wasn’t there before.
Those who disliked Krysta Cameron’s vocals on It’s All Happening will no doubt continue to be rubbed in all sorts of the wrong directions by them on Ruining It For Everybody, but just as the rest of the band seem to have found a comfortable new sense of co-operation (with a band as outré as iwabo, using the term “equilibrium” just seems wrong), Cameron has a new-found sense of, and greater confidence to use her clean-singing as more than just a vocal placeholder when Steven Bradley and John Ganey are showing off with their guitars. Just take the gospel-coda to ‘Deoderant Can’t Fix Ugly’ - simultaneously a demonstration of just what Cameron is capable of, as well as a glorious fuck-you middle-finger to anyone who’s previously singled her out as a weak-link in iwabo.
Watch the video to ‘You Know That Ain’t Them Dogs’ Real Voices’ by iwrestledabearonce:
So yeah, Ruining It For Everybody doesn’t feel like an album to me – I certainly don’t listen to it “as an album”. iwrestledabearonce have wisely realised that their second album was always going to lack the broadside WTF-moments of their debut – after all, you can’t surprise an audience with the same trick twice – and have instead threaded a more obvious and defined skeleton into their music. Sure, their casual disregard for the “rules” of composition is still there, and I still can’t (and doubt I ever will) absorb Ruining It For Everybody in a single sitting, but it has slotted in and around my listening habits with a consumate ease that no other record of 2011 has managed to equal. iwrestledabearonce have managed to keep me on the back foot, and it’s a sign of just how much they improved that they’ve managed to do so without me wanting to reach for the eject-button.
Sounds like: If you shut you eyes at the right moments, you might pick up slivers of Genghis Tron and Rolo Tomassi
Top tracks: Deodorant Can’t Fix Ugly, Next Visible Delicious, Gold Jacket, Green Jacket
iwrestledabearonce – Ruining It For Everybody tracklisting
Next Visible Delicious
You Know That Ain’t Them Dogs’ Real Voices
Deodorant Can’t Fix Ugly
This Head Music Makes My Eyes Rain
It Is “Bro” Isn’t It?
Gold Jacket, Green Jacket
Break It Down Camacho
Stay to the Right
I’m Gonna Shoot
Button It Up