It's a real tragedy that the vocals of Mere Women are such a polarising element of their sound. Dependent on your mood and your approach to consuming audio, they'll either perfectly accentuate the band's pulsating sense of urgency and restlessness, or cause hyper-tension, leading to severe anxiety attacks and/or death. The vocals also occasionally border slightly too close to the shrieky gal punxxx dangerzone, acting as an unfortunate distraction from the band's unique and brutal attack on the often over appreciated post-end-of-the-world punk mathlexia sub-genre.
Mere Women are at their best when the compositions take control, dragging the listener by the ear lobes into the dark and frantic tunnels of Sewertown, Sydney, Australia, where corpse rape and other pleasantries happen rampantly and rapidly. The hastiness is key, as those pesky Pothole Patrollers are always lurking, ready to shine their torches on your malnutritioned torso and disrupt your Solo Necro Party.
Back in the world of the living, we have the band's tuberculosis dedication and side-A standout, TB, three minutes of audible sounds that best utilise this music-over-lyrics formula, pushing the haunting harmonies deep into the mix where their desperation better compliments the throbbing baselines and guitar white wash. Whilst on tracks like the previously released Indians and Amends, we get slapped with the other side of the hand, with all the enjoyable qualities of the sharp-shifting agitated composition swamped by spine-scrapping shrieks of turbulence and an unsettling franticness.
Old Life ends incredibly strongly, with the album's two best tracks saved for the victory lap portion of the tape. First we have Faded, probably a song about choofing bong buckets in your mum's station-wagon while she's on the Gold Coast holidaying with your new dad Geoff. Given the complex subject matter, the (almost) ballad track and the (almost) angelic vocals showcase a previously undisplayed sense of composure, with the band taking their time building a strong argument against marijuana as a gateway drug and The Goldie as the unpleasant gateway into mid-life crisis sexual exploration. With the unpunctured hymen purity of the vocals perfectly poisoned by the speckles of dramatically injected rough guitar work and mathematically precise metronymics.
This appreciation for contrast and time and structure hangs over into the album finale, Mister Memory, which, following a similar tone to everything that's preluded it, pushes forward in a confronting manner. Unlike the rest of the record, however, is the fact the track melts slowly into a cult chanting exercise. Amidst this brain-washing attempt there's also a continuance of maturity, giving the vocals and composition their own space instead of dueling them against each over.
Old Life is weakened by the lack of congruity between it's elements. Mere Women are purposefully abrasive in their approach and the rough edges of the knife (ie: their music) as it twists through your stomach lining (ie. your ears) is the most exciting facet of their sound. However, the sharp jolts and the obsessively micro attention span undermines this genuine character and uniqueness. The right balance will surely be discovered over time as the band refines their approach, leading to a lot more face stabbing and necrophilia and other descriptive sentences.