review by Rachel LeBlanc
Perhaps it’s because I had house shows on my mind lately, but when I first listened to Bellingham’s The Russians on their debut self-titled release, I instantly thought of how great they would sound, smashed up in a crowded basement. Energy oozing out of every song, they entice you to move around, their bridges were built to be sung along with — their music seems engineered for the experience. They would be booked with the likes of locals Hopscotch Boys, maybe Nazca Lines, the Whore Moans.
Yet, after several listens, I realized putting The Russians into a mentally formed basement would be severely undermining their abilities. This is a well produced and polished album, and for a debut, they do not show a bit of amateurism (although I do not know of their musical histories). To compare them with larger bands, Hot Hot Heat, The Hives, hell even the Strokes come to mind — check out “The Clink”.
Much of their sound is on the synth-punk end, but other influences shine through. “Life is a Snuff Film” is chock full of swing jazz. At least one of the band members must run in rockabilly circles from time to time. But load up on the caffeine before hitting up frenetic “Capture the Flag.” That number will have you running up the walls, as I envision singer Ryan O’Flaherty had to be while pushing out those “whoa-OOOOO-WHOA!”s.
What is this I hear? Songs titled “Chastity Castle,” “Arab Lover,” and “Sexual Espionage” with a harried voice belting out almost indiscernible lyrics I’m fairly certain are about sexual tension? Seems they have other influences in their book as well.
When word is out on these four Bellingham boys, I feel they will not be playing cafes and BBQ houses for much long after. But at least while they are still making the rounds, I would totally have them come play in my basement.