The Amazing Snakeheads, the Glaswegian trio who have become known for energetic and exhilarating live shows, have managed to channel that same raw energy into their debut album Amphetamine Ballads. The band have successfully set out to create a sinisterly seductive view of Glasgow, seen from an inner circle of characters, backstreets and walls dripping with grease. Imagine Irvine Welsh’s picture of Scotland channelled through the gritty late night tales of Tom Waits.
The pace of Amphetamine Ballads doesn’t let up as the band rip through the first few songs. The playing is infused with punk ideologies. Intricate playing tracked to perfection while slaving over takes is not the direction of The Snakeheads, instead aiming to recreate their live sound. The fluidity of the tempos on display captures the live feel effortlessly, whilst giving the band a real sense of irresistibly sleazy groove. The songs have strength in build-up through dissonance, structure and almost euphoric sense of release rather than crafted melodies, subtleties and intricacies.
While Nighttime and Here It Comes Again are relentless in their energy, the latter half of the album lets up slightly. The introduction of Every Guy Wants To Be Her Baby evokes a perversely erotic Twin Peaks aura with sax counter melodies over loose and laid back bed of drums and eerie synths. This, of course, lets rip into a full band outpouring overflowing with charisma and effortless swagger.
The real gem comes in the form of Memories. An unrelenting build up which lets out to the lines “take it by both bands, and shake it if it needs it”. The Snakeheads then proceed to shake the song to an oddly euphoric and erotic repeated saxophone line. This melody, along with the accompanying guitar line disintegrates into a dissonant rush of energy bringing the song to a close.
The final two songs, Heading for Heartbreak and Tiger By The Tail epitomise the album’s title. Ballads at heart that almost shed a layer of skin and tease you with the idea of something deeper, but never quite delivering. The sheer effortlessness with which this is accomplished, without ever letting go of their sordid charm. These closing twelve minutes leaves you high and dry, teased with a taste, craving more from the trio that sound like they couldn’t give a shit if you do or not, which of course makes you want it more.
- Ashley Leiper
The Amazing Snakeheads - Amphetamine Ballads is out now via Domino Records and is available in all good record shops and online here.