On stage, Violent Change is a scrappy rock foursome. Wily guitar solos writhe atop serrated riffs and punchy backbeats while bandleader Matt Bleyle sneers and jeers at the crowd in an affected English accent. On the record, however, Violent Change is Bleyle alone. Like the local artist’s debut as Violent Change last year, Bleyle sings and plays most instruments on Celebration of Taste. He also recorded it to tape himself, and the album’s messy, raw production is an integral element.
Album opener “A Star in Outer Space” announces Bleyle’s pop faculties with twinkling guitar notes and a beautifully ascending chord progression. Sequenced soon after, “Faster” is rudimentary, mid-tempo punk with noisy outbursts. Both tracks showcase Bleyle’s economical rock arrangements and churlish yowl, but Celebration of Taste quickly devolves into more challenging experiments. “Abductors” is just cymbal clamor and amplified errors. It’s arrhythmic, atonal, and jarring. For “Hairline Esque,” an incomplete vocal lead rises out of dense feedback, then disappears. On such tracks, Bleyle subordinates songwriting convention to sonic textures, as if luring listeners toward noise with fleeting bits of melody.
For listeners expecting Violent Change’s raucous live presence, Celebration of Taste will disappoint. Considering the teasing and somewhat smug album title, Bleyle knows it. The album includes lean, balanced rock songs and explores the sonic decay of magnetic tape and overdriven gear. Rather than sounding torn between two styles, Bleyle makes a case for fusing them together. Call it a gorgeous wreck. (Melters)