Great music for short attention spans. Seattle band Unnatural Helpers writes brief, catchy garage rock. Their second album, Cracked Love & Other Drugs (Hardly Art), contains 15 songs in just over 25 minutes.
Founded by drummer/singer Dean Whitmore (a former member of the Intelligence), Unnatural Helpers adhere to a simple formula of fast, three-chord riffs, loose drums, looser vocals and intelligent lyrics. Much like Girls did last year, or Titus Andronicus more recently, Unnatural Helpers is one of few punk rock leaning bands that appeal to an indie rock audience--bridging the gap per se. They do this by keeping it minimalist: no glitz or glam, no cliches, all bare bones, rough and raw music.
"Head Collector" is punk rock filtered through a wall of sound. "Wayward Eye" is hook-laden surfer rock. "Sunshine/Pretty Girls" is a two-chord song in which Whitmore sings about maintaining his vices (smoking, drinking, headaches) in lieu of pretty girls and sunshine--flowers be damned.
Cracked Love & Other Drugs crackles with botched notes and vacillating fuzz; the album was recorded in a mere week. Adding to the process was Brian Standeford and Leo Gebhardt (the Catheters, Tall Birds) on guitars, with cameos from Kinski's Chris Martin. Bass and backing vocals are lent from the Dutchess & the Duke's Kimberly Morrison, with Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks) as producer.
Unnatural Helpers don't attempt to be cutting-edge. They keep their aesthetic scaled back and simple. Cracked Love & Other Drugs is a reminder that punk rock can still be awesome and interesting--all in the space of 25 minutes.