Westboro Baptist Choir - Feeling Better About Feeling Good [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Westboro Baptist Choir

Feeling Better About Feeling Good [EP] (2015)


The Westboro Baptist Choir is a Philadelphia punk quartet that have been making noise around the city of brotherly of love for about a year. The live show is a propulsive, chaotic scene with frontwoman Amanda screaming and screeching into the microphone all while doing a weird, spastic dance and issuing obtuse proclamations to the audience that seem to intertwine concepts of virtue and selfishness into one bizarre, labyrinthine thread. Meanwhile, the band bashes out atypical hardcore songs that usually shatter by the end, but rarely fall prey to being by-the-numbers smashing. The fact is, the live gigs are something to behold, but can that energy and visual performance be transmitted to an audio-only release?

Feeling Better About Feeling Good is definitely as frantic as the band’s live show. Songs rip by in one-to-two minutes, driven by shambling drums and percussive guitar lines that waver between anarcho-striking and surf-rock undulation. The result is an EP that feels like it’s going to fly part at any minute. This is hardcore music, but on songs like “Portraits of Richard,” it sounds like summer-camp music, or even religious hymns, pulled into the hardcore realm rather something that started out as Discharge worship. Of course, that makes the release wonderfully unique and at least somewhat disturbing.

You do have to give a good deal of credit to Amanda. So many hardcore vocalists shout against the music, resulting in a wearying barrage. By contrast, Amanda has the rare skill of being able to ride the music, using it as a vehicle to throw her own voice forward -- this spastic, wacky, weird music feels like a rumbling boulder, picking up as it smashes along, becoming more unpredictable and more exciting as it flies forward. She flexes her voice between shouting, sermonizing and sounding like an old lady-baby cross, such as on "Red Water." Weird, man.

Feeling Better About Feeling Good is a refreshing “hardcore” record -- but it’s only hardcore in that it’s loud, fast, nasty sounding music. It’s berserk in a way that makes you want to dive into the mania instead of pull back. And try to figure out just what the hell is going on. If only all harder bands were this creative.