If you needed any more persuasion that Bristol’s Bellies! are a band you need pressed against your eardrums, then the side of this cassette squatted by Babysitter should clear things up. Bellies! offer a bulwark against music that’s not just craply anodyne in itself, but also rubbish in a particularly male way; unfortunately Babysitter are terrible in both these ways, and their ‘Internetional Acquaintances’ (sic) half is total testicular shit. Vocals are leering, cocksure. Guitars are feebly recorded, suggesting fear of fidelity rather than deliberate rawness. The songs are garage strutters that bluster and overcompensate when they should be out and fearless, and come complete with lyrics no adult should sing. They wanna fucking riot. It’s like licking the rim of a toilet.
Anyway, last year’s cassette saw Bellies! ripping into short songs that fired jagged guitar and drum noises through a crotchety and joyous home-recorded prism. That incendiary potential, of never knowing when Nat’s sing-song meandering will give way to Debi’s dinosaur roar, is ever present on ‘Hammerhead Hipshake’, though the brevity of the songs has been stretched by looser, more experimental forces. They’re still pretty short natch, but check out ‘Surprises’ – the earworm melody nags and drops out, gets lost in the silence and noise, before gliding over the drawn out ending. The middle section, where blaring trumpet meets guitar out of nowhere for a brief, obliterating moment, is a headspinning rock thrill to match any you’ll hear this year. Opener ‘Ruby’ also plays with nervy quiet moments, making the rolling stridency and quicksmart hollering all the more potent. There’s megawatts of real anger too, lyrics obliquely referencing gawking tourists and people or animals caged, flaring amongst the skeletal guitar. Though still the antithesis of circular verse/chorus dullness, this time around the songs flow with more momentum and purpose, each half of the duo locking their disparate sections perfectly into the other’s like brilliant serrated cogs. At the closing title track, the customary vocal chatter, the flatly ambiguous “why can’t we be friends” refrain, the stop/start tumbling rhythm – it’s Bellies! totally fluent in their own language, skipping through ideas with itchy feet. Their half of this cassette finds them confident, growing, glowing, and the dead opposite of redundant male wankery.