Sons and Daughters
It’s one thing to be a fan of a particular producer, but it takes a special breed of music nerd to revere an actual recording studio. Bear with me, though: Studios are often associated with a certain sound, whether it’s the clinical coldness of Hansa Studios in Berlin or the lush opulence of the old Strawberry Studios at Château d’Hérouville. The lore is such that one of the first things anyone mentioned about The Repulsion Box, the full-length debut by the Glaswegian band Sons and Daughters, is that it was recorded at Conny Plank’s studio just outside of Cologne, Germany. Music-geek translation? The same place favored by pioneering krautrock duo Neu!, without which half of our record collections never would have existed. The messy, rough-hewn rootsiness of Sons and Daughters might seem at odds with the skeletal sound associated with Conny’s, but The Repulsion Box proves itself worthy right from the opener, “Medicine,” on which David Gow’s relentless drumming recalls the motorik beat of Neu!’s Klaus Dinger. The album is even more Neu!-ish on “Hunt,” which turns into a repetitive, throbbing jam about halfway through, and “Take the Last Girl,” which opens with what might as well be the pulsating riff from the krautrockers’ legendary “Hallogallo.” (Hint: the one that sounds like Stereolab.) Plank died in 1987, but Repulsion Box producer Victor Van Vugt also has something of a signature sound: He’s worked with both PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, and on “Red Receiver,” he makes frontwoman Adele Bethel seem as passionate and searing as either one of these predecessors. Co-vocalist Scott Paterson’s deep, accented voice, somewhere between that of Cave and Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat, is less charismatic but still a perfect fit for the murder ballad “Rama Lama,” on which he and Bethel engage in some very intense back-and-forth about some scarily “click, click, click”-ing heels. There was always a propulsive quality to music recorded by Plank, and Sons and Daughters sound as if they’re headed somewhere, too—possibly a vicious midnight lover’s quarrel, as evidenced in “Monsters” (“Monogamy to you it seems is just black and blue/All the best psychotic lovers ain’t got nothing on you”), or another killing. Though Plank’s been gone almost 20 years, The Repulsion Box shows that plenty of his spirit remains in that farmhouse in Neunkirchen. —David Dunlap Jr.