Sunday, 3 June 2018


"bye bye Berta"
Year:    2016
Country:    US
City:    New York
Label:    Wharf Cat
Format:    CD
Tracks:    20
Time:    30 min.
Genre:    rock
Style:            Post Punk

The sound of trio Palberta evokes the post-punk era’s great experimentalists, with overloaded glee and delirious energy. The 20-song *Bye Bye Berta is their first attempt at doing so longform. alberta take joy in confusion. Formed in New York’s Hudson Valley at Bard College, the trio of Lily Konigsberg, Anina Ivry-Block, and Nina Ryser has spent the last few years baffling audiences in the Northeast DIY scene with brief blasts of broken rounds, abstract nursery rhymes, and jittery haphazard rhythms that speed to cartoonish extremes or slow down to a crawl seemingly on a whim. Despite the anti-hero virtuosity that they each demonstrate on guitar, bass, and drums, Ivry-Block has said in interviews that she’s “never really learned how to play songs on the guitar or really any of the instruments.” Consequently, their sound is largely in line with the post-punk era’s great experimentalists—This Heat’s rattlesnake coils of toxic rhythmic interplay, Sun City Girls’ prankish melodies—but they approach these sounds with a sort of overloaded glee, crashing and careening through styles and sounds for little more than a couple minutes at a time. Then, they’ll awkwardly trade instruments before barreling through another sub-two-minute track. They’ve released a couple of tapes and splits—most notably 2013’s *My Pal Berta *and 2014’s Shitheads in the Ditch—that attempted to bottle their delirious energy, but at 20-songs long, *Bye Bye Berta *is their first real attempt at doing so longform. The effect, even through just the first couple of bite-sized pieces, is jarring and deliberately so. Within five minutes, Konigsberg, Ivry-Block, and Ryser tunnel through dazed chorales (“Why Didn’t I?”), discordant speed blues (“Acoustic Rollup”), bracing noise rock (“Jaws”), and narcotized concréte (“Bells Pt. B”). The stylistic hopscotch is unsettling, but playful, something like attempting to hop onto a speeding carousel. Even as you start to feel sickly, you can’t help but hang on tight. Compared to some of the more outré experiments they’ve slipped onto singles and splits since Shitheads, the sounds that make up *Bye Bye Berta *feel especially well-considered. It’s a strange thing to say about a record that has an intentionally misremembered—and largely off-key—rendition of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin Alive,” but it’s clear that Palberta are giving real thought to the diverse textures they can wring out of their instruments. “She Feels That Way,” for example, is presented first as a sparse, unplugged ballad. It’s then followed by a noisy, rumbling version of the same track—the original’s toy piano plinks are scoured by the brillo-tough, barely-in-tune guitar lines. These two versions of the same loose, spectral melody show it plainly, but Palberta never really repeat a specific sound between songs, even with their limited instrumental palette. It only adds to the euphoric disjunct of the record as a whole (*Review by Colin Joyce ).
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