Stuck - Change is Bad - Album review by Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture

ALBUM REVIEW #20 – Stuck, Change Is Bad (out April 3, 2020)

Excellent news from Born Yesterday Records: the four members of Chicago-based post-punk band Stuck bring out their first LP Change Is Bad on April 3rd.

Our readers know that hate marketing is neither our forte, nor our ambition. We’re here to write about moving art. There’s one problem, though. We don’t know the first thing about post-punk. Okay, we might have posted one article or two on the subject, and yes we’ve seen the movie Control. But that doesn’t give us the legitimacy to talk about this scene. We’re jazzheads, after all.

That being said, we believe that our curiosity easily tops our biggest clichés and beliefs. This explains why we decided to review Change Is Bad adopting a peculiar approach.

From the press release: 

Change Is Bad may be the first album you hear from Stuck, but it’s a record so knee deep in mental anguish, post-punk spirit, and profound sincerity that you can’t help but listen to it again. 

Let’s find out, Good Cop, Bad Cop style.

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Stuck, Change Is Bad, our review:

"Post-punk is basically made of four chords instead of three and that's it."

Change Is Bad is surprisingly rich for a first album. Need proof? The first album we could link this album to was Captain Beefheart’s infamous Trout Mask Replica. That being said, do not expect weird, tiring experimentations. Mastered improvisation, metrical preciseness and raw energy are central here.

If you’re into music theory, Change is Bad will be of great interest. Time signature changes, atonality, polytonality, all this will appear to you quite easily. That being said, forget the idea of false sophistication. Stuck are definitely not trying too hard. As Miles Davis would say, “They’re doing it on the fly”.

Considering the obvious mastery of the musicians comprising Stuck (David Algrim, Tim Green, Greg Obis, and Donny Walsh), what’s on the record hasn’t been produced effortlessly. In reality, it just seems like it has been, and that makes the album even more enjoyable and entraining.

Picture of the Band Stuck for thir album Change is Bad by Vanessa Valadez 2
Courtesy of Vanessa Valadez

"Post-punk is known to be depressing. Who would want to listen to this and feel so sad?"

A disambiguation has to be done here. The album is quite dark in its lyrics, and the omnipresent atonality gives a continuous feeling of pain expression. There’s no use denying it.

Now if you look at the whole picture, there’s a noticeable loud-quiet-loud pattern, popularized by the Pixies and adored by Nirvana. These intensity shifts take the listener by storm and communicate a wide range of feelings, mostly positive. Psychology might back this. Please someone write a thesis on the psychology of post-punk and prove us right. The song Anniversary (our favorite on the album) illustrates quite well what we’d like to express exactly. But you’ll listen to it when the album is available on April 3rd. Ah.

For now, listen to Bells, something similar operates.

"Post-punk is tangled up in the field of rock music."

Well, partly wrong. Mostly right. As you wish.

Change Is Bad is heavily influenced by the History of the post-punk and post-hardcore scenes, yes. In this album you’ll find Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, Devo, The Smiths, etc. But other influences, probably undesired, come color the whole album.

We won’t establish here a boring listing of our auditory hallucinations and beliefs, but we firmly believe that Stuck’s Change Is Bad is an experience deserving attention, at once playing with feelings and calling for sensorial memories.

Picture of the Band Stuck for thir album Change is Bad by Vanessa Valadez
Courtesy of Vanessa Valadez

“Change Is Bad” was recorded from July 30 – August 3rd at Jamdek Studios in Chicago, IL.

Engineered by Doug Malone, mixed by Dave Vettraino, mastered by Greg Obis at Chicago Mastering Service.

Stuck is David Algrim, Tim Green, Greg Obis, and Donny Walsh.

Stuck, Change Is Bad (out on April 3, 2020 via Born Yesterday Records).

Tracklist

  1. Ceiling
  2. Invisible Wall
  3. Era
  4. Dimed
  5. Bug Song
  6. Plank II
  7. Change Is Bad
  8. Wrong Questio
  9. Plank I
  10. Anniversary
  11. Bells 

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Written by  Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture

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