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Though Norwegian duo Timo and Tony, aka Barren Womb, describe themselves as “northern hardcore”, their collective name, song titles, and sound (think Mclusky fronted by Dennis Lyxzén of Refused) may place them more firmly in the “asshole indie rock” tradition—direct, obnoxious, and unapologetic.
Lizard Lounge is a record best played loud. It’s a raucous rough-up of an album, blending a hardcore punk ethos with straight-up rock ‘n’ roll riffage. A testament to how sometimes less is more, their two-man setup lends itself well to their style, crafting a compact and full sound that wants for nothing. Their driving rhythms and carefully executed guitar lines make for a rock solid sonic assault.
Most surprising—for all the album’s devil-may-care nonchalance and fuzzy, no-fuss rockers—is how hooky the guitar riffs are. It’s fun and undeniably catchy, coming in at a tight 37 minutes.
The album opens with the maniacal ‘Cemetery Slopestyle’, which speeds along at just over 90 seconds. Next, ‘Karma as a Tour Manager’ and ‘Hairy Palms’ coast on punky groove but maintain the scree and fire of overcharged guitars. It’s a welcome change of pace before giving way to the storming ‘Crop Circle Jerk’.
Doomy and sludgy, the track packs a mean punch in its juggernaut of a chorus—the screams of “watch out” keeping an ominous tone. Here the band display their skilful musical interplay with a breakdown as tight as the proverbial.
Elsewhere, ‘Be Kind, Have Fun, and Try Not to Die’ best exemplifies what Barren Womb are all about. It’s heavy, but infectiously melodic, complete with a schmaltzy middle-eight—a bona fide indie floor filler. Meanwhile, ‘Smokes, Let’s Go’ recalls early Sub Pop-era grunge with its gritty, under-produced feel, sloppy toms, splashy cymbals and grimy guitar tones. For all the brash delivery, Barren Womb cannot deny their pop sensibilities.
Short, sweet and to the point, Lizard Lounge captures a band that have fine-tuned their approach to song craft. Barren Womb know how to keep a listener engaged and wanting more. Hardcore and noise aficionados will more than appreciate what this album has to offer.