Simultaneously, and inexplicably, both too short and too long, His Electro Blue Voice’s Sup Pop debut, Ruthless Sperm, remains one of the more captivating rock releases of 2013. The industrial underpinnings of tracks like “Sea Bug” and “Tumor” provide a surprisingly current update to the gnarly sounds of early Sub Pop and AmRep bands. Ministry and Mudhoney aren’t two bands often mentioned in the same sentence, but in a year where Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails have emphatically reclaimed their prominence, His Electro Blue Voice benefit from both timing and big balls.
An album full of industrial-strength sludge would have ripped. However, His Electro Blue Voice have more on their agenda. They’re also out to justify their surprise signing to Sub Pop. So, in addition to ripping, Ruthless Sperm features overreaching. The motorik movement on the eight-minute “Spit Dirt” is two minutes two long. Similarly, “Born Tired,” tacks an additional three minutes when it would have been better off in two-minute radio-edit form. With a bubbling bass line ripped from the ’90s and vocals like a mouth of bleach and broken glass it has all the hallmarks of a two-fists-in-the-air guitar banger. The extra three minutes of gurgly wash has all the hallmarks of a band who don’t know when to say when.
And that’s the frustration of Ruthless Sperm in the proverbial nutshell. I’m hard pressed to name a band who’ve ripped 2013 quite like His Electro Blue Voice. But those ripping moments are fleeting. It’s as if Ruthless Sperm was a double album and we’re missing the second vinyl. Or, Ruthless Sperm was an EP and extended outros were added two take up two sides of one vinyl. It’s simultaneously too short and too long.