A burst of pissed off rock that pisses me off for not being longer. But it does contribute to this micro-EP's undeniable character. It's a short but overwhelming experience not unlike a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
"About fifteen years ago, a couple of my neighborhood friends and I decided we were going to cut a tree down using only a hammer. It wasn't a big tree, and it took us about a week to do it, but we did it, by God! 'Pure Vanilla,' Complainer's newest release, brought me back to the intensity and pure adrenaline of that moment.
If one is familiar with Already Dead, then it really shouldn't take much convincing here. Joe Hess and Mabel Suen. Drums and guitar with a splash of saxophone. Absurdly good at their respective instruments. There are only so many ways to say "these songs slap harder than anything else I've heard this year."
Three hits of the hi-hat, a kick, and a snare kicks off 'Pure Vanilla' in style, and the ball doesn't stop rolling from there. "Cardboard" slugs away with a riff so brilliant and energetic that it could loop infinitely with no objections from me; one of those sounds that makes a person want to yell with pure jubilation. This quickly transitions into a punker's delight with "Fuck Droid," which has a phenomenal music video, if that's your thing. "Vanilla" has to be the standout track on this album. Though Suen's vocals add a huge deal of power to each track, the sludgy, pounding chaos of "Vanilla" transcends predictability with the addition of the saxophone. 'Pure Vanilla' is a short album. The song "Vanilla" could last for thirty minutes and it would be interesting the whole time.
Vanilla is generally a term used to describe something bland or unoffensive. However, have you ever had real deal vanilla? Pure vanilla? That shit's good! And so is this!"
- Jacob Watkins, Already Dead Tapes, 2018
"The new tape from St Louis noisemakers Complainer doesn’t wast any time getting down to business — at barely ten minutes, it doesn’t have the luxury of that slow fade-up. “Pure Vanilla” is 5 tracks of hyper-caffeinated noise-punk, and it’s here to make your life just a little bit better. Built around the raucous creativities of Joe Hess and Mabel Suen, the collection is a blast of primal rock ‘n’ roll: guitar, drums and a little saxophone. Sometimes that’s all you really need. Opening track “Pure” is exactly that, a pure punk roar that burns out after a minute and leaves you breathless and shaking with anticipation for what’s coming, its tenure filled with a complicated history of manic inspirations and adrenalized influences.
“Cardboard” combines the ferocity of proto-punk with the angularity of its ancestor post-punk, creating a landscape of jagged edges and spiked rhythms. “Fucking Droid” is a sludgy punker, complete with rumbling drums and barely contained (but still very catchy) guitar melodies. Basically the companion to “Pure,” “Vanilla” is somewhat slower and more calculated, a ground-shaking slab of punk that showcases the versatility of saxophone in this setting — imagine X-ray Spex in a more improvisational setting. “Lip Service” closes out the tape with a series of kinetic percussive explosions and Suen’s manic howl, a fitting ending to a set that prizes its punk brevity and warped tonalities over our own mundane realities."
- Joshua Pickard, The Southern Sounding, 2018
Sure, the novelty tends to wear off a little when you listen to the three albums in a row, but still, this is pretty unique, without being disturbing or anything. Oh and I love that cover art. Alice M.