Flat Worms is a side project that shares its members with prominent bands in LA’s punk community. Commonly heralded as a supergroup, the band recorded their second album Antarctica in just six days at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio. Antarctica sheds away the lo-fi production of its predecessor, opting instead for a more controlled punch of garage rock that pummels down without hesitation. The guitars can be hoarse and abrasive, but it manages to stretch its sonic range into psychedelic territory. Occasionally leaving its wall of noise to venture off into a sharper kaleidoscope of screeching riffs. Will Ivy’s vocals aren’t drowned, instead it’s displayed front and center. Openly conveying the album’s themes with commentary that can range from prophetic to satire.
“The Aughts” matches the rumble of drums with guitars that mimic a siren. It warns of an impending collapse of society, suggesting our steady decline in the recent decades. “Plaster Casts” comments on the prevalence of social media and consumerist beauty standards. Noting on how hollow it is inside. Its blistering bass line and rushing rhythms urges you to step out of the trap.
In “Market Forces”, Ivy adapts a sarcastic vocal delivery. He laments on our lack of agency and choice as corporate entities dictate our lives more. This tone is revisited in “Condo Colony”, which critiques on the prevalence of the real estate market and how it’s increasingly hard to escape. “Via” questions all of our modern day advancements, juxtaposing it with the Roman civilization. It ultimately asks if progress has really done us more good than harm with it’s stark chorus: “They weren’t built for me”. This is followed by “The Mine” which focuses on how our pursuit for wealth has brought destruction in nature: “Now there’s no more story / Left to this land.”
All of these themes culminate in the title track. “Antarctica” differentiates itself with the rest of the tracks with its slow and plodding pace, representing a cold and indifferent barren landscape. The bass and drums slack away, while the guitars buzz in a foreboding manner. Parallels between our modern day world are shed to light as much of its inhabitants are lonely despite all of its supposed progress.
Antarctica is a cohesive album with each track centered around its bleak theme. Even if you’re not too much fan of its gray narrative, its exploration in minimalist post-punk should tide you over. This album doesn’t sound like it came from a trio, its fullness and length is an impressive feat in itself and should leave you with hours of enjoyment.
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