January is traditionally the slowest month in the discerning music listener’s calendar. It’s a time to reflect and get cleansed of an entire year of deafening buzz, a grace period with which to re-evaluate albums you never gave a chance or never dug deep enough to survey. Hearing Big Troubles’ Worry for the first time was one of those post-list revelations. It was my “I fucked up” moment, realizing this little record was bounds better than Ariel Pink’s Before Today, if only for sheer audacity. Not exactly sure why it never got my time, and from now on I’ll never doubt even a flippant release from Olde English Spelling Bee. It’s all golden, really. Truth.
Why it was so overlooked in 2010 is a mystery. I was initially smitten with the Ridgewood, New Jersey’s huge shimmering “Bite Yr Tongue,” but wrote it off as a fluke offshoot of the other breezy simpletons (Real Estate, Beach Fossils, Ducktails) emanating from the eastern seaboard. Now, finally emerged in the entire whirlwind of melody and fuzz concentrated in Worry, I’m finally understanding why the UK went so bonkers for the Stone Roses when they began. There’s an everlasting hope in all of Worry. Though completely bitten by the baggy Madchester bug, the quartet is blissfully blown-out, swimming in shoegaze nougat (there are more than enough obvious nods to Ride and MBV), and the swirling, muddled blur of hypnogagia. Rattling around in that dome of influence is merely a parlor trick for Big Troubles, though, the glory lies in their songs, not their sound (but it surely adds a heft currently unheard). “Slouch” breathes with the awkward tenacity of early Pavement singles; “Georgia” bleeds equal to the narcotic lull of the Swirlies; and “Creeper” melts over the romantic darkness of Eric’s Trip.
In reality, these 20-somethings probably listened to Pollard more than anything. “Drastic and Difficult” is directly ripped from Vampire on Titus, and I’d doubt there would be denial in that accusation. Measured against their peers, that’s to the benefit of Big Troubles (who may have even named themselves after one of Pollard’s fictional band fantasies) as more youth should be sprawling his influence over a canvas this dissonantly pretty and grotesque. After a long weekend smothered in hugs, the comforting drag of “Desire for a Certain Thing to Happen” is a stunning hangover cure. This is music that’s sonically pleasing yet always at odds, skewing the line between cold robotic plasticity and organic goo. Synthetic drums versus garage beat, new wave indifference versus a slacker heart, and never painfully hip, but always wobbling towards chirpy novelty—those battles only add character to an album fitting for a 2011 recharge. Worry is so brightly optimistic it really should be welcoming in your new year instead of closing the old one.
Kevin J. Elliott