What would a stranger to Cardiff think, stumbling upon this miniature showcase for these two capital bands? Would they dig the seam of darkness here, seeing Wales still worrying the carcass of old songs? Or would they just reject bollocks theorising and simply get off on a couple of great rock bands who happen to be based in the same city? Joy Of Sex and Gindrinker are certainly Great Bands, a few years and a couple of singles old, their perma-presence and blatant decency sometimes leaving them underestimated in this jumped up town.
On the Gindrinker side are two more songs from their stash of pickled character sketches and bleakly funny state of the nation yowls. ‘Bob Grainger: Sexual Pervert’ lurches queasily like the “mucky man” in question, horizontal guitar riff and slow drum machine thud pushing DC Gates’s vocals along, semi-spoken word rambles about a molester of animals, fish and stone walls (“It was mossy / He said”). Like a lot of Gindrinker songs, it reaches some sort of hysterical climax, rising comparisons to fellow explorers and tyrants Amelia Earhart and Enver Hoxha. It’s sleazy, brainy, high quality stuff. ‘Y Chromosome’ ups the tempo and adds some fine guitar from Graf, alternately stabbing and throttling like some bearded murderer. Lyrically, it’s a male of the species layed into for ugliness, uselessness, worsening the world through the misfortune of being born (Best line: “What went wrong with your daddy’s balls?”). The further adventures of Cardiff’s premier publican tag team don’t disappoint.
Joy Of Sex slink further down the alleyway. ‘Hypnic Jerk’ begins jerking between crisp riffing and drums thrown against a wall, before Max’s vocals stride in, agitated and cool. A chorus that rides on three guitar notes slides in, Rosie batting back lines as the whole thing creeps upwards unnervingly. A post punk, Wire-y direct hit. Growling bass runs through ‘Red Rocket’, more male/female voices in your head crawling toward almost-choruses. Joy Of Sex play with silence and clean minimalism like Prinzhorn Dance School or Young Marble Giants, wring dryly melodic twists out of them, and make great, blackened music, of which these two brief songs only give you a keyhole view. Your fictional stranger might think these two bands dark, twisted, obsessed, but they’d have to be impressed too.