It seems like just yesterday that duo Civil Civic released their debut song, ‘Less Unless’, which excited and confused people in equal measures. One of the most annoying things about Civil Civic is that they don’t use vocals which could put people off their music but they manage to make it work with supercharged experimental pieces of distorted noise pop madness. Imagine Death From Above 1979 sped up 100x and you’d be close to what they sound like. The album title, Rules is the antithesis of their music and you can imagine them to break rules rather than keep them. The combination of old video clips from various movies to accompany their songs is something a lot of artists seem to be doing lately and in Civil Civic’s case, it’s so wrong that it’s right.
Opener ‘Airspray’ sounds like the music you’d find on those racing car games at the arcade and perhaps that’s the intention because the video features a car speeding throughout which compliments the rushed nature of the song. Rules carries on in the same fashion with ‘Run Overdrive’ which manages to keep up the high tempo energy. Although, a pattern is already emerging because both ‘Airspray’ and ‘Run Overdrive’ sound like the same song and the only downfall of this album is that the tracks tend to merge into each other and come off as quite repetitive. ‘Street Trap’ manages to crank it up a notch somehow and it’s becoming apparent that the lack of vocals doesn’t matter because they’d have a hard time keeping up with the instrumental anyway.
‘Grey Nurse’ however, brings something completely different to the table, with 60s garage rock elements that are reminiscent of LA band Growlers. Civil Civic then switch things up with a change of pace to let the listener catch up, and this carries on for the rest of the album, which comes off as a bit boring for the most part until we get to ‘Less Unless’ which in undoubtedly the standout on the album and you can’t help but wonder if it was a fluke that the best song they’ve created is their first song. The frantic guitar, noises reminiscent of the old dial up connection for the internet and ghostly synth pulses make you wish there was a lot more of this on Rules.
Although the songs on the album are quite long, Civil Civic sprint to reach the end of each song, as if someone is chasing them. It feels as if they got to the middle of the album and decided to take a break as the songs suddenly become slow and slightly melancholic apart from ‘Less Unless’. Rules is an album to be digested in small bytes for fear of a hard drive meltdown.