Album Review | Couch Slut | Take a Chance on Rock ‘n’ Roll

Allow me to open this with a brief anecdote: in early 2018, I drove out to a show in New Haven, CT. The lineup was absolutely stacked with some incredible local acts I knew very well (Intercourse was the headliner), but I was utterly unfamiliar with the only out-of-state band. Cut to their set—a wall of filthy filthy guitars and cracking drums roaring from the small stage, while the vocalist stalks the entire bar, fake(?) blood running out of their mouth as they climb into the face of every onlooker, screaming into their agape mouths.

That band was the NY-based Couch Slut, putting on one of the most aggressive and incredible live sets I’ve ever seen. Their stage sound is huge, stomping, sludgy noise rock, and their latest LP Take a Chance on Rock ‘n’ Roll captures every ounce of their vitriol.

Take a Chance on Rock ‘n’ Roll opens like a chorus of chainsaws, announcing itself as a filthy, furious presence. The guitars are so high-gain that feedback fills every open space between notes. The vocals aren’t stylized screams, but genuine, retching yells that ooze frustration and rage. The lyrics are just as blunt and bombastic: graphic and unforgiving imagery abounds, with language choices that serve only to make each vision more vivid and unpalatable.

Couch Slut have always been unapologetic in pretty much every sense of the word, but the lyrical content on Take a Chance claws away all pretense or prettiness. Many of the songs put the listener in the middle of hellishly uncomfortable, if not dire, situations: “I’m 14” strips away any innocence implied by the title with graphic images like “I just turned 14 / The manager pierces my clit” and “I’m on so much pills / I get in exchange for sucking cock.” “The Stupid Man” describes an abusive relationship, closing with a very poignant repetition of the line “I have been hit again and again.” The album’s closer “Someplace Cheap” spins a spoken-word scene of young partygoers being drugged and sexually assaulted on camera—and barely dodging something worse.

Couch Slut’s fearless look into bleak, horrid moments will probably turn some more squeamish listeners away, but that fearlessness is my favorite aspect of their new record. Each song presses the listener’s eyes into a dark corner, forcing them to confront the shit reality hunched there. It cannot be easy to write songs about sexual assault, domestic abuse, or the police’s abject indifference to these issues. To do so from a feminist perspective is even more daring, but Couch Slut doesn’t bat an eye. Instead they press that proverbial pen deep into the paper of our eardrums, scarring the tissue so that we might have even a small semblance of how that darkness truly feels.

This shouldn’t be surprising, but the compositions on this record aren’t any less heavy than the subject matter. The instrumentation on Take a Chance on Rock ‘n’ Roll does just that: mashing rock-heavy riffing with violent performances and plenty of noise. The overdriven bass sounds like a semi revving up for some Duel-esque rampage, locking in with the kick to create stomping rhythms that are aggressive yet very danceable. The drums maintain rigid tempos while smashing pretty much every part of the kit into pieces. The guitars sling driving leads and punchy progressions back and forth across the tunes, playing riffs that wouldn’t feel so out of place on some classic rock records if not for the walls of distortion and feedback showering from the amps.

For me, this record absolutely captures that first face-smashing experience that was seeing this band live: sludgy walls of noise rock, ear-bending screams, and no shortage of brusque, zero-fucks-to-give honesty. Every track on Take a Chance on Rock ‘n’ Roll hits like a gut punch, so hard that the penultimate untitled piano interlude does nothing to cleanse the palate. Couch Slut grabs their fan base by the neck, and shoves them face first into the darkest corners of life. These tunes are not to be taken lightly, so brace yourself before you press play.

My Top Track: “In a Pig’s Eye”

Take a Chance on Rock ‘n’ Roll is out via Gilead Media. You can grab a physical copy off Bandcamp or stream the record on Spotify. For all things Couch Slut, follow them on Facebook.

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