In a constellation of retro-looking and -sounding bands, London’s Compulsion — three Irishmen and a Dutch drummer — is the great spiky hope for punk-like rock. Combining the best of Nirvana’s quiet-loud dynamics and the Pixies’ axemanship with incredibly forceful presentation (both live and on record), the band has forged a pummeling, absolutely individual sound.
Aging angry-young-man singer Josephmary and fellow Dubliner bassist Sid Rainey first hooked up in the ’60s-inspired Thee Amazing Colossal Men. With the addition of guitarist Garret Lee and drummer Jan-Willem Alkema, they formed Compulsion and released two powerful vinyl-only EPs on their own label; Compulsion and Casserole were later collected on a bonus CD available in initial UK copies of Comforter; a few of the EPs’ best tracks comprise the band’s American debut, Boogie Woogie.
After bailing on a deal with Elektra, Compulsion issued its brilliant debut album, Comforter, on Interscope. Over vividly chunky riffs and ringing epic guitar (most notably on the gruesome “Accident Ahead” and Nirvana-echoing “Lovers”), Josephmary proffers muscular gravely vocals, the likes of which should have neighbors complaining in a jiff. After delivering aggro shoutathons (“Find Time”) and speedy pop punk (“Easterman”), the band shows off its technical prowess on the instrumentals “Late Again” and “Dick, Dale, Rick, and Rickey,” which surf a decidedly Pixie-ish guitar wave. A remarkable new band.
Despite its Devo-esque cover photo, the second album offers more of the same — tuneful if not exactly subtle punky growlers with cumbersome song titles like “Question Time for the Proles” and “Juvenile Scene Detective.”