The Routes always seem to be do something different stylistically on every record they release; from their largely R&B influenced debut album “Left My Mind”, to the playful US garage drenched “Alligator”, to the Strummin’ Mental madness of the “Instrumentals” album, right up until “Skeletons” in 2016 which saw them on more of a modern garage punk trip. It doesn’t seem to matter what they do, and who plays in the band; it still unmistakably sounds like The Routes. “In This Perfect Hell”, the fifth album by The Routes, brings you ten original songs. No filler and no covers. From the start, you can tell it’s not going to be your stereotypical garage album. This time The Routes seemed have strayed far from your average garage bands comfort zone. They have stripped everything right down in the playing department, with leader Chris Jack playing pretty much everything apart from the drums. The stripping down seems to have the opposite effect, of creating a huge, thick, heavy wall of sound. The nasty Japanese fuzz pedals, and very simple guitar leads stab through the wall, and stick into your brain. It’s not exactly your typical garage, it’s not exactly psych; it’s not exactly any one thing in particular. Is it a huge mass of perhaps everything Chris Jack listens to? One wonders if he opened the floodgates on his musical tastes and just let it all come through? The brain penetrating heavy fuzz, and Maureen Tucker-esque rhythm of opening track “Thousand Forgotten Dreams”, instantly tells you we are again on a new, different tangent. The hypnotic guitars are actually not unreminiscent of early Spacemen 3 or Jesus and Mary Chain. “Worry” sounds like it could be the cover of a long lost Tamrons acetate, being played by The Fall. You have catchy up-tempo lyrically playful numbers like “Peeling Face” and “Housework In My Head”, sounding like The Kinks meet The Modern Lovers, meet Guided By Voices; “Something Slipped Through My Window” and “Oblivious”, again see the band in fine songwriting form, with The Routes Acetone organ resurrected. The Routes take a heavy trip to Gonn land with “Make You Hate Me More”, yep they always have one “Fuck You” anthem without fail (without actually swearing in the song of course, because the lyrics have more than enough hate in them already). One wonders how many flashbacks were channeled to create the acid tinged freakout that is “No Permanence”? Is this garage punk meets Can’s Mother Sky? You could imagine The Lemon Drops singing “In Years Gone By”, before being having their minds blown away by the trip that is “Perfect Hell”. Are you doing well living in this Perfect Hell? Reading what I’ve written you’d think “That’s ridiculous, how could all that go together, and sound like one band, or one album?”. The answer is; it’s so well done, and so subtle. That my friends is the genius of The Routes. Everything they do sounds like The Routes, and they sound AMAZING!
1. Thousand Forgotten Dreams
2. Something Slipped Through My Window
3. Peeling Face
4. No Permanence
1. Make You Hate Me More
2. Housework In My Head
4. In Years Gone By
5. Perfect Hell
releases March 15, 2017
Chris Jack: Vocals / Guitar / Bass / 12 String guitar / Organ / Percussion
Jonathan Hillhouse: Drums / Percussion
All songs written by Christopher Jack.
Recorded by Christopher Jack.
Mixed by Christopher Jack and Andrew Shartle.
Mastered by Andrew Shartle at Black Diamond Recording Studios, Oregon.
Photography: Yoko Ono.
Front cover lettering: Mik Baro
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