While their name may hint at a desire to shock, Switzerland’s The Pussywarmers main interest is in producing a unique brand of garage rock. ‘I Saw Them Leaving’, their third album, sees them team up with Hungarian singer Réka Csiszer to produce an intriguing mix of fuzzy surf pop and European folk music.
The band’s influences are many and varied. 60’s garage rock bands such as Strawberry Alarm Clock and The Sonics are prominent. At other times, though, they sound like a less frantic Gogol Bordello. Perhaps the most obvious comparison though, given the way the band utilize the combination of male and female vocals is to The Velvet Underground and Nico.
The album begins strongly with ‘Under the Sea’. Fabio Pozzorini’s plaintive vocals swoop and screech over doo-wop backing vocals, fuzz guitar and whirling organ. ‘Looking Over’ is the best showcase for The Pussywarmer’s unique sound. Beginning with a Pozzorini singing over a simple guitar line it slowly builds to a powerful psychedelic climax. ‘Feeling of Death’ with Pozzorini’s combining well with an appropriately haunting guitar over a purposeful rhythm section. ‘Something You Call Love’, a one time Folk Radio Song of the Day, is an enjoyable stomping garage rock track that plays to the band’s strengths and is by far the catchiest song on the album.
In between these rockier numbers space is made for gentler songs that give room for Réka’s more delicate vocals to come to the fore. The highlight of these is ‘Fading Out’ which best manages to combine Réka’s vocals with The Pussywarmer’s energy.
The combination doesn’t always work. On ‘This Town’ Réka manages to give a passable attempt at being a garage rock singer but it sounds somewhat forced. At other times it sounds like a band that are struggling to assimilate their many influences into a distinctive sound. ‘Young Men Leaving’ for example, is certainly an enjoyable enough surf pop song but sounds so familiar you could be forgiven for thinking that Pozzorini is singing ‘Louie Louie’. Despite the odd off note, there is certainly plenty here that suggests that with a slightly more refined sense of direction they will be capable of producing something special in the future.
Moreover, it may be that the true power of these songs will only be felt by those who experience the band’s live performances. If this is the case then we are in luck, as a European-wide tour is planned for the spring. With the band claiming to be willing to play anywhere from theatres and museums to funerals and sailor parties. There is sure to be plenty of opportunity for The Pussywarmers to expand their growing band of devoted fans.
Review by: Alfred Archer
Released 31 January 2014 via Wild Honey Records