You have to understand. It’s always tougher to justify the albums you love, the ones that shoot like endorphins straight to your head, like the first time you ever rode a loop-de-loop roller coaster, and dismounted screaming and whooping, fists pumping, beyond exuberant that living feels like this.
It’s also tougher to sit back and justify this recording – D.Y.I, the second from Athens boys Muuy Biien – after a maddening thirty-five minute with these blokes in a crowded little bar, merging with the shaking, shifting mass of slam-dancing bodies after ninety minutes of scrunching against the wall and failing miserably at invisibility.
(Granted, the hardest thing ever to do is to gather up the nerve and sing D.Y.I’s praises to the frontman himself, the truest-to-life punk you’ll ever meet that needs no flashy safety pins or leather to assert himself, who’s sitting on the directly opposite side of the room and is surrounded by his dudely chums. I decided that I was the wrong gender and chickened out.)
At any rate, D.Y.I should best be summarized as briefly as possible, if one is to capture the instant KO impact of the thing. So stupifyingly wicked is this album, that the band have built in periods of meditation to numb your boggled head before plunging chin-deep in diamond-clear punk fervor. Take a deep, deep breathe on ‘Cyclothemia I‘, because ‘Human Error‘/’White Ego‘ is a helluva one-two punch. SCREE! SCREE! The first is a flurry of collapse, the second a noodle-driving bass charge of ferocious rhythm that’ll bob your head right off its hinges.
Fuck fuck fuck. I try to sit down and sift out the influences, but the rush pounds out every rational critical process I have and I’m left with the obscure – Josh Evans spews with a tempered and jabbing fury that I thought was only peculiar to Mark Mothersbaugh (especially on ‘Frigid‘, which by the by is something like ‘Whip It Up‘ but leaner, smoothed clean of kinks, and studded with spiraling spikes that tickle your feet); riffs on ‘What Isn’t‘ and ‘Crispin Noir‘ split open in ways that evoke Daniel Ash’s spidery style. And meanwhile the bass rumbles underneath, ever beckoning with its relentless agility.
Now, albums like this are textbook examples of ye old mantra “all killer, no filler”, but the big money single is 100% ‘She Bursts (Reprise)‘. Lawdy lawdy, what a tight groove! What a pop-perfect blast of searing melody! What a massive motorik build! Like the flight path of a guided missile, the track is fine-tuned for maximum impact. (But no explosion – that’s “Virus Evolves”, which actually feels more like rounds of machine gun fire have been unloaded at your chest. BAM BAM BAM.)
Fuck fuck fuck. Now I’m cursing because I pulled a scab too far and formed a swelling pool of blood on my knuckle. You know what ‘D.Y.I stands for? “Do yourself in.” The band’s depicted an extreme and literal example on their cover, but somewhere between the three Cyclothemias of harrowing ambiance you see the nuances of the mantra. We are always our own worst enemy, aren’t we? There’s me, and this stupid open scab that I’ve dabbed three dozen times until the napkin itself looks pox-ridden; and then there’s the void, the realm of non-feeling, death that is ever present and always in reach.
D.Y.I ends in a moment like this – not with a bang, but with a dusty piano that guides us down to that quiet gray oblivion. And this only proves, kids, that Muuy Biien are more punk than you’ll ever be, because they have seen death and dance in its shadow.