Quicksand - Interiors

by Warwick Stubbs Rating:8 Release Date:2017-11-10
Quicksand - Interiors
Quicksand - Interiors

Time invariably removes traces of youth, bringing a gentler, kinder, less harsh version of you.

Unless you’re Iggy Pop. Then age is but a few wrinkles on your skin.

Quicksand formed in 1990 out of the post-hardcore scene of New York, their sound of shouted vocals and crunching guitars fitting alongside those of early Helmet and Fugazi; angry lyrics pissed off at the whole post ‘teenage angst’ world not living up to whatever dreams of youth early adulthood had destroyed. While it was, at least for the media and record executives, New York’s version of grunge, post-hardcore was destined to remain a niche market of sweaty dissatisfied young adults appealing mostly to the audience attending small venue gigs, and a few listeners overseas. Quicksand fitted in, but like most bands of this scene, neither exploded like their record company had hoped, nor remained together to see out more releases.

After two separate reunions during the mid and late 90s, Quicksand have finally returned with a full length record that sits squarely where you might expect the sound to sit if the band had stayed together. Are there crunching guitars? No. Are there shouted vocals? No. But what there is, and what has always been apparent across an EP and two full length albums, is the sound of a rhythm section perfectly in tune with each other.

Listening to Interiors you might think that Quicksand have taken an approach similar to that of Failure with Walter Schreifels’ softer vocals concentrating more on singing than brash declarations. There’s no crunch of ‘Dine Alone’ or the opening guitar salvo of ‘Clean Slate’, but in abundance is the same fluid drumming from Alan Cage that, while never flashy, is impressive for how ‘articulate’ his playing is. Sergio Vega’s bass has been thickened up in the lower ends, maybe this is an influence from his time in Deftones, but it adds a new angle that was less present before, especially on Manic Compression. The overall sound of Interiors is that of a band who have grown without compromising their own playing or passion. Just as the Doom Metal band Anathema grew on every new album and slowly morphed into the now New-Age Prog-Rock band, so I imagine the intervening years between Manic Compression and Interiors would have done for Quicksand. There’s no sense that this isn’t the same band from the 90s.

First song ‘Illuminant’ reminds us that they still have heavy riffs that can pound our senses adding some tasteful wah-wah drenched lead breaks, vocals have that post hardcore shout vibe without being ripped from the throat, instead using the same vocal tone as the straight singing sections so lines like “and when it’s gone it’s gone for you like anyone, wants to belong here” stand out with heartfelt intent. Second song ‘Under the Screw’ brings back some Manic Compression intensity reminiscent of ‘Backwards’ and ‘Thorn In My Side’.

Second single ‘Cosmonauts’ brings a relaxed approach but heavy on Failure’s ‘Stuck On You’ influence (or similarities), though lyrically couldn’t be more distant focusing on vague feelings of regret, tiredness, and questions of loss: “Compromising to follow to its natural end, still close enough to feel the blame. But how long can I stay, before we disintegrate?”

The three songs after ‘Cosmonauts’ don’t hit the same intensity, though ‘Fire This Time’ has a quirky riff harking back to ‘Delusional'. ‘Feels Like A Weight Has Been Lifted’ is the perfect declaration for this album, neither relying on trying to be something the band is no longer, nor something the band isn’t, and instead invoking what the band members are when they’re together. ‘Sick Mind’ and ‘Normal Love’ round the album off with confidence bringing all these elements together as Schreifels proudly sings “pass the pain and see the future, find your trouble, whatever suits you. I should have seen that coming from miles away – you don’t know what it’s like, it’s just your life.”

The listener will hear aspects most like those caught on Manic Compression but without the treble-high production and disaffected agitation, and moments on Slip like the intro to ‘Transparent’ only stretched out over the majority of a song. If anyone was expecting a “return to form” via the post hardcore brilliance of their début album, fools they are. Quicksand never lost their form, they simply stopped being a band for a period of time. Now they are back – for how long, who cares? – and this album is their statement as older musicians.

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