Glasgow’s Water Machine create a fizzing, infectious fusion of off-kilter punk meets alt-country on this, their debut four-track EP.
Clean, angular guitars interplay with an energetically uplifting rhythm section, and a surprisingly effective cow bell motif, as well as occasional shards of spiky synth. Vocals move seamlessly from staccato semi-spoken passages to impassioned yelps and then almost melodious crooning, embellished by supporting layered harmonies and group choruses. Wryly observed lyrics span topics from cats and the importance of hydration to self-important audiences and the frustrations of late-running buses.
Water Machine is an office romance between Hando Morice (they/them), Flore de Hoog (she/her), Jimmy Gage (he/him) and Goda Ilgauskaitė (she/her). An unassuming supergroup formed out of Glasgow institutions including Goth GF, Passion Pusher, Brenda and Soursob, their sound careens between punk, country and alt-rock underpinned by the unique quality they call “Raw Liquid Power”.
Following last year’s self-titled demo tape on Gold Mold Records, and fresh off of shows with the likes of Holiday Ghosts, The Cool Greenhouse and The Orielles, as well as a rollicking Viagra Boys afterparty, the four-piece will release their highly-anticipated first studio effort ‘Raw Liquid Power’ on Upset The Rhythm on August 4th.
The EP opens with a menacing, modulating synth melody. Gage’s guitar enters with a mighty bend before breaking into the chugging rhythm of ‘Water Machine Pt. 2’. This timely reminder to refill your water bottle – “don’t be late, hydrate!” less a wellness mantra than a threat – builds to a spacey outro with flashes of the art-punk weirdness of Suburban Lawns. ‘Stilettos’ marches on indignantly with a spiky riff punctuated by Ilgauskaitė’s cowbells. Staccato talk-singing tells a playful tale of stray cats following you home, but belies a darker subtext as the breakdown gives way to paranoid duelling guitars evoking The Fire Engines.
The anti-anthem ‘At the Drive In’ skewers joyless DIY crowds, reminiscent of much-missed Glasgow punks Breakfast Muff. Water Machine’s irrepressible sincerity can’t help but shine through in the final moments though, as jibes about “late night trade potential” give way to plaintive vocal harmonies. Morice tears public transport a new one on closer ‘Bussy’, a First Bus diss track bemoaning precarious employment amidst crumbling infrastructure. “That’s why I’m not on time!” they roar over de Hoog’s frantic, pounding bass, bringing the record to a skidding, screeching halt.
—Upset The Rhythm