Ermine Coat - Parking Lots
Ermine Coat's Alex Griffin is a depressed, sea-sick Kirby. He doesn't so much copy and synthesise his influences into a cohesive whole like James Murphy became famous for doing. Rather, being a talented writer and critic as well as musician, he absorbs the culture that he immerses himself in, regardless of its origin or meaning, before regurgitating it out in a spew of angry, confused, vertigo-inducing bile. On one track Spandau Ballet's 'True' is interpolated as a confused and rambling almost break-up song, marked by dissonant guitar and synth lines (which I believe may be the microkorg patches credited to the local Krautrocker Mitchell Freeway, but I could be wrong) and double-tracked vocals.
The music that results recreates not just Griffin's direct influences, but also peripheral cultural events and signifiers, as an illness: Listening to Ermine Coat's second LP, the recently released Parking Lots, may be to feel a mental illness that results in a physical illness that causes one's stomach and intestines to contort in uncomfortable shapes.
Not that this is a criticism, it feels like an intention. Griffin's first album, LP from 2011, was a strong but often rote callback to the distorted fuzz-pop of early Pavement and Guided By Voices. Parking Lots is a more complete and well-conceived whole, a product that completely represents the contradictions, divergent tastes and psychological make-up of its creator. That Perth is privy to a songwriter of this amount of volatility and idiosyncracy should be celebrated, something often only observed in the outsider pop scenes of places like Portland, Berlin or London.
There's still marked room for improvement, particularly with electronic instrumentation and sampling, fields that Griffin hasn't yet reached mastery in, but these efforts are at least interesting. 'Eternal McDonalds' is the best of these. The sample of that father of two who somehow got celebrated for calling a few young girls sluts (and possibly taking fire at this society-celebrated sexism), has been metamorphosed into a mess of electronic noise-vomit. The whole thing was made on an 8-track; Parking Lots comes across as a reflection on absorbing and understanding the mass of inane information people sieve through in the Tumblr age from the perspective of someone who hasn't quite gotten over his love for the technology and knowledge of his youth.
Parking Lots is an important album, at least as far as Perth music is concerned, precisely because it inspires thought bubbles in those listening to it (or at least in me idk bout you). Although thankfully it's not just a gathering place for critical discussion and self-reflection. There are a string of great pop tracks anchoring the top of the experimental album (strangely, not unlike Kanye's Yeezus), notably 'Hillary Clinton', in which the coda “there's no pretty white girls wearing lace on the riverbank” will circle over and over in your mind, and 'Masking Tape', which is supported with a super-8 video by local musician and film technician Adem K (of Turnstyle and Community Chest fame) that you can watch below.
It's gotta be said, if this is an experiment then it was a successful one, and not by accident either. If you have any interest in local music or outsider pop, this record, if not essential, will at least expand your understanding of either/or.
Be sure to check out Ermine Coat's bandcamp here, where you can purchase the tunes.
8.0 out of 10 Ermine Fur Coats