Apa Valley - Apa State Mental (The Almighty Kong)
Let's be blunt: The problem with being simplistic and sticking to a formula is that you can disappear up your own arse after a while. Sweden's Apa State Mental know this only too well and deftly manage to sidestep that problem by never sitting still and, er, probing new areas.
Album Number Three finds Apa State Mental still spilling out (mostly) sub-two-minute punk rock/post-punk gems with no middle eight in sight. Less musical than The Minutemen but just as focussed, they absorb elements of surf twang, grind, hardcore, rock-pop and metal to turn out something unique.
Among their influences, Apa State Mental list The Fall and film score producer Bill Conti. That may give you a clue as to where they're coming from, but then again maybe not.
The cleverness in Apa State Mental is in their understatement. Take the lyrics of "Five Bar Blues", which opens "Apa Valley":
Woke up this morning
Had a five bar blues in my head
Woke up and went straight to bed
And that's it. Its economy makes Eddy Current Suppression Ring sound like Dylan (and Jacob Zetterholm has the same droll vocal delivery as Brendan Suppression). Only on the title track do Apa State Mental expand into what might pass for wordiness and even then, you'll be left scratching your head.
If brevity is their by-word, it also applies to the instrumentation. Guitarist Peter Mattsson spits out a solo worth bottling on the rocking "Good Idea" and snaps the door firmly shut at the song's 60-second mark.
It's not all ironic. "Woodstock '68" sounds like Union Carbide Productions and locks into a killer groove with guitar pyrotechnics exploding all over the place. "The Cramps" references the one and the same in style and name to great effect.
Is this music for people with Attention Deficit Disorder? I'll skoll to that. There was a nod to Eddy Current Suppression Ring earlier in the review and if you're a fan of them, you must hunt down this album. No risk.