Chicago’s Vices lean hard into their love of a brand of distorted, shag thick rock that could have only been served up under the Alternative banner were it being made in the shadow of Y2K. They’ve found a way to take the signifiers of grunge’s fallout and make them fun for a new generation just finding their flannel. The album, recorded by the band’s own Shawn Wilson sounds like they studied up on everything from guitar tones and favored pedals to the era’s thick walled assault of sound that shot singles like cannonballs of cathartic youth. The best bits of American Consciousness feel so familiar that there’s almost a tendency to double check the name scrolling across the screen, confirming that indeed this isn’t a b-side dropped out of Interscope’s late ’90s library.
That’s not to say they lean completely into the “radio ready” pile, the band have a professed love for Shellac and the indie legends’ sinewy strand of riff finds its way in among the fuzz-pummeled hooks. I guess that’s what’s so endearing about the record, it got grunge-metal’s stomp and math rock’s self-serious technical twists, but the boys in Vices also seem like they had a collection that toppled into pop-punk, despite themselves. They know when to sound like playing in a band is a good time, and more importantly, how to convey it to the listener. There is a definite groundswell of grunge revival happening lately, and the younger generation is glomming onto my high school memories like, I suppose, we pillaged our own parents’ perception of the ’70s. Any revival bears hallmarks of retread, but when bands start cherry picking the best bits, it feels fun regardless of how much you’ve heard it all before.
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