It'll Be Cool
Touch And Go
By: Eric Greenwood
Silkworm records come and go every few years. Touch and Go just keeps releasing them out of habit, I suppose. They never make much of a splash, and barely anyone even notices, apart from longtime fans. I imagine they press and sell the same amount every time. And, honestly, I don't know that I would even like them had I not followed the band for so long to experience its nuanced growth since classic records like Libertine and In The West blew my mind a decade ago.
Having been along for the ride, though, I relish the subtle changes and self-references and meandering melodies that have shaped the band since its classically underrated 1998 album, Blueblood. To hear It'll Be Cool as your first Silkworm record might not make a fan out of you. The band's lingering noise-rock roots serve as mere foundational tools to convey its evolving brand of classic modern rock, and just hearing the end result in its current incarnation might scare away today's indie rock neophyte with an ear for trendy dance-punk.
Silkworm has morphed into a strange beast over the last decade. The shrillness of Tim Midgett's lumbering bass lines still cut right through the mix, and Andy Cohen's meaty riffage still borders on the tinge of metal. Together they sound jagged and piercing. Steve Albini is on board once again to ensure that the drums take up as much space on the tape as possible, which is always appreciated. He's the perfect engineer for Silkworm's big, burly sound.
But Silkworm's songs have turned into rough-hewn ballads disguised as workhorse art. "Don't Look Back" is a rare aggressor with Midgett's idiosyncratic wail leading the charge. "Insomnia" and "Something Hyper" scale back the pace and tension, but the drunken bar room feel is just as raucous as if they were rockers. Whether the lyrics are dry or self-effacing or even esoteric, Andy Cohen and Tim Midgett know how to pull you into their strange yet insightful headspaces.
Yeah, it's another Silkworm record. It's not the band's best and it's not the band's worst. It rocks in its own unique, world-weary way. I'll listen to it over and over for a few weeks, learn its intricacies, and then file it with the others. And Silkworm will always be one of my favorite bands.