Let's get this out of the way up front: Tyvek is one weird band. With a herky-jerky drummer who plays while standing up and stream-of-consciousness lyrics that are shouted more than sung, the five-piece has a certain awkwardness that can actually be charming. So, their inclusion as a recent Sub Pop Singles Club release and a review of their new self-titled debut full-length on Pitchfork, those fetishists of all that is messy, unschooled and awkward in rock, shouldn't come as any big surprise.
Naturally, the record's filled with its own eccentricities. Some are grating — like an angular first track that features a frantic tribal woodwind, as well as a recurring surf-rock instrumental interlude between songs. There's also the slow, quiet "Building Burning" which immediately returns in a sped-up and amped-up sequel, "Building Burning (Re-Edit)," all ending with some spacey flute playing. It's a strange succession, to say the least. That said, though, there are certain songs here that manage to rise up and stick, which succeed in graduating the record to a "barely listenable" classification. The propulsive, raw punk on songs like "Frustration Rock," "Stand and Fight" and "Stop Start" are about as good as propulsive, raw punk gets. On "Summer Things," the familiar chord progressions and lyrics about holding hands come on as a welcome oasis amid all the racket, while "Hey Una" makes way for something truly shocking — Tyvek drops the three-chord punk rock halfway through for an outro that's actually delicately pretty.
Abrasive can be interesting, and for the most part, it is on Tyvek. But abrasive doesn't have to always be clumsy either. Tyvek shouldn't abandon their flair for peculiarities. But in order for the band to move forward, they'll have to decide when to hone in on hooks and when to just leave things beautifully sloppy.
Tyvek's next local show (following a brief East Coast tour) is Monday, July 27, at PJ's Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668. With the Coconut Coolouts and Personal and the Pizzas.
Lee DeVito reviews music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].