by Niccolo Dante Porcello (@ChromeChompsky)
The metamorphosis that Brooklyn-via-Boston loudpop rockers Guerilla Toss have undergone from this to their current incarnation is not nearly as vast as would seem; indeed the main difference lies in which sections of their sound are prioritized at any given point. In their earlier releases, vocalist Kassie Carlson alternated between screaming and singing, usually settling on the most blissfully disconcerting intersection of the two. On Flood Dosed, their first effort for James Murphy’s DFA Records, this intersection is one between singing and flat speaking, her vocals taking on a remarkably clear sound that belies the past 5 years of releases. So too does the rest of the band emphasize the less remote corners of their musicianship. Drummer Peter Negroponte spends most of the record, “Polly’s Crystal” especially, as deep in the pocket as he’s ever been, finding small breaks in the action to enforce his will on the over-arching rhythms.
Flood Dosed is the most lucid record that (the affectionately dubbed) GToss has made, building off of the trajectory sighted by 2014’s Smack The Brick EP, and one-off “367 Equalizer”. It is possible to listen to those records in retrospect, post-Flood Dosed’s release, and see where Guerilla Toss took intrinsic inspiration for this record. These are the hookiest songs to date; all three embracing chopped grooves that vacillate between muddy lows and breathtakingly clean highs. There is a momentary break down in the middle of “Realistic Rabbit”, in which Arian Shaifee’s Morello-y guitar pitching shifts the momentum of the song from its jittery industrial-leaning beginning to an allegro sax-fueled jam, all over which Carlson intones “calculator/ what does it equal/ looking restless/ what is the time/ im still waiting/ waiting to see/ what is fact or imaginary”. This moment is one of the catchiest on the record, and it highlights best what is different about Flood Dosed; in records prior, the break would oft dive into masterfully obtuse garbage time, where a truly inspired amount of noise would be made because why the fuck not. Here, it saunters into an even catchier section that makes for great listening in its own right.
It is hard not to be astonished by GToss, almost doubly so when considering their live performance. The energy and synchronized chaos of their records is indomitable, rendering genre descriptions even more useless than usual. Flood Dosed is an unmissable entry in the DIY oeuvre, and a progressively great record from a band that has the ability to seemingly bend expectations beyond belief. Guerilla Toss has made weird pop that demands to be listened to, and felt in yer bones.