out September 8th
Listening to HEALTH’s sophomore album, it’s tough not to envision barren landscapes and smoking piles of ruin. Ironically, for an album titled Get Color, the music is painted in blacks and grays – mechanical, repetitive, noisy without remorse. Get Color, like other products of the LA noise rock scene, sounds like machines have taken over the Earth, found some musical record of the humans who used to inhabit this planet, and are now attempting to replicate the melodies and rhythms.
Except that on Get Color, the machines are actually doing a fairly passable job. There are haunting, ethereal hints at humanity – an echoing human voice here, a drumbeat that sounds a little too organic to be programmed there. And that hint that this music isn’t completely made by machines is what makes all the difference.
I’m not going to lie, I don’t like HEALTH. I can’t think of a single person to whom I would glowingly recommend Get Color or noise rock in general. It’s not music I’d want to hear at a party, it’s not music I’d usually choose to listen to on my own. I suppose, someday, as ash rains down from the sky and robot dogs surround my building, it will make the perfect soundtrack to the final scene of the graphic novel adaptation of my life. But for now, I really don’t have much of a place for it.
But that doesn’t make it valueless, and I am sure there are some people who live for this kind of music. In fact, I’m pretty sure that HEALTH is the kind of music that music critics (and, really, who doesn’t count themselves in that segment of the population these days) will really get into. It’s the kind of music that the indie media machine will tell you is worth listening to. But that’s just one machine working to help out another, slowly trying to control your mind – this music isn’t made for real people.
If you’re into noise rock, or if DJ Shadow’s “Mutual Slump” really gets you going, if sometimes you sit in your office’s copy room listening to the “music” of the Xerox machine, well then today is your lucky day. If you haven’t already heard of HEALTH, you’ve just been introduced to your new favorite band.
If you’re not into noise rock, though, HEALTH isn’t such a bad introduction. The exploration of seemingly impenetrable tracks can be a rewarding venture, and the tracks on Get Color can serve as a nifty primer to the genre. Start with the last two tracks on Get Color, “We Are Water” and “In Violet” as an introduction. The two closing tracks are the least aurally offensive, and are about as catchy as these guys get. The machines come pretty damn close to making human tunes here.
As you get used to the balance there, delve a little deeper into the mechanics of it all – maybe take a taste of lead single “Die Slow” or the slower, more melodic “Eat Flesh,” being sure to turn the volume up and try to listen past the clutter. Eventually you may even be able to listen to “Death +” from beginning to end and actually enjoy it. It took me 7 or 8 times. But for some reason, now that I’ve given the record far more spins than I originally thought possible, I feel a sense of achievement. I recognize specific songs, my head bobs along to tracks I originally found repulsive, and I feel like – for the first time in a while – this music has made me earn my appreciation of it. It’s not an album of instantaneously catchy pop tunes, and I’m happy for that.
And look, here I am being part of the machine, telling you that HEALTH is worth listening to. Looks like the machines have managed to convince me, under my own watchful eyes. But I’ll just keep telling myself that it’s more preparation than anything else. After all, 50 years from now in some dystopic, machine-run future, HEALTH will be playing on the radio, and I’ll still want to dance.
Rate the album:
Stream the entire album here, thanks to Lala. All you need is an account. If you don’t have one, make sure to set one up. It absolutely free and only takes a second.