Foxtails/Algae Bloom - Split (Cover Artwork)

Foxtails / Algae Bloom

Split (2018)

Nothing Feels Good Records

We are bearing witness to the rehabilitation of screamo. After a solid decade of being dragged down to the crabcore-ed depths of flat-ironed bangs, guyliner and terrible dye jobs, screamo seems to be reconstituting itself like a Jurassic Park dinosaur using the DNA of scramz, emoviolence and The Wave (I swear most of those are legitimate sub-genres). These new screamo bands, perhaps in further rejection of the genre’s ‘decade under the influence’, have markedly disparate sounds, bound together mostly by a penchant for redlined vocal performances and pendulum swings between mathy contemplations and shrieking brutality. This split between Connecticut’s Foxtails and Norwich, UK’s Algae Bloom captures and showcases that disparate sound perfectly. Both bands bring their own approach to the genre for six songs that work together as much as they stand apart.

Both the songs that Foxtails contributes to the split feature slow builds, paying out increases of intensity over the first half of each track. Bassist/vocalist Megan Cadena-Fernandez shows off the ability to shift her voice up and down a range that spans between a whimper and howl, mixing in spoken word stanzas with the screams. Drummer Michael Larocca opens both songs with a post-punk march before he and guitarist Jon Benham put the pedal down with a wall of noise punctuated with staccato fills and blast beats. The lyrics, especially for the second track “Cucaracho”, match the raw, tortured aggression of the music perfectly, and Candena-Fernandez screaming lines like ‘You're a coward and a joke/ I will live to watch you choke/I fucking despise you/I’ll never forgive you/For everything you’ve done’ is enough to send a shudder down anyone’s spine.

Algae Bloom brings a more midwestern math sensibility to their screamo, peppering the screams with intricate guitar riffs in the style of American Football or Tiny Moving Parts. Making a full sound for a two-piece, Matt (vocals and guitars) and Leigh (standing drumkit and lyrical composition) create shimmery emo driven by the kind of intricate technical drum lines that set bands like Braid and Algernon Cadwallader apart. They spike this spun sugar concoction with throat-rending vocals, often with an even higher-screamed harmony. Lyrically each song is linear, there are no hooks and no choruses, often a single stanza of verse that nonetheless feels profound in its straightforward tone if one were to look up the lyrics.

There are screams aplenty on both halves of this split and both bands have chosen to offset the more abrasive sides, albeit from different directions. Algae Bloom brings a technically impressive twinkle while Foxtails works in a darker, post-punk menace. Together they are indicative of the disparate spaces that can be mapped out within the confines of a single subgenre and the quality of the music that can be made in those spaces.