Yo, dawg, I heard you like Boris in your Boris...Sargent House, 2014
6.0 / 10
It is generally a bad idea to begin a review by referring to a bad quote from one of the most important American writers of all time, especially for an album review, but fuck it, I have a point to make: Mark Twain once said, “I like [it] best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others need no preparation and got none”. Twain’s best books remain both studied and enjoyed over a century after his passing, and it is all too easy to imagine him saying this about his most revered work. Twain, however, was referring to Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, a book that few would call his best and most would call his worst. If Mark Twain isn’t the best judge of his own work, why should one trust any other author to judge their own work? Of their new album, Noise, Japanese rock/metal/sludge/drone/psychedelic/fuck outfit Boris has said, “If we had to suggest just one album for those unfamiliar with Boris’ music, we will pick this for sure.” Yep.
On the one hand, I see where they’re coming from as Noise features more Boris than any other Boris album. You get all of the Boris suggested in those slashes, often on one track, and if you’re looking for just a sampling of what the band does, here you go. On the other hand, this feels too much like an attempt at making an accessible album rather than a great one, which is particularly frustrating due to the obvious comparisons to Pink, an album that was uncompromising, awesome, and accessible. The majority of the tracks presented here feel like song ideas rather than complete works. “Melody” begins with a cool riff and then goes nowhere with it for six minutes. “Vanilla” aims for shocks in its breakdown, but you could easily chart the song’s path from its opening notes. Hell, “Taiyo No Baka” is downright pop. It’s not subversive pop, or inventive pop, or well-executed pop. It’s a pop song that was thrown in because why not.
The best songs on Noise are the ones that practice the least consideration for the uninitiated. “Angel” and “Quicksilver”, at eighteen minutes and nine minutes respectively, make up half of the album’s runtime and provide the best moments. These are hard tunes that earn their occupied space, though they don’t hold a candle to the epics Swans unleashed earlier this year. These two songs show what Boris are capable of when they let their artistic impulses run free, and the rest of Noise argues why trying to restrain those impulses is a bad idea.