July 30, 2013

EP: Chemical Peel - Bike Thief

Don't be intimidated by Chemical Peels' intense garage punk –
they just want their bike back.

When you look up the phrase ''chemical peel' on the Internet, the results are pretty disturbing. There are countless pictures of people with raw, red cheeks with dead skin drooping off of them. It's one of those things that you can't help but look at even if it freaks you out. Although there's nothing gross about the band that takes their name after the skin-clearing procedure, the music of Columbia, South Carolina's Chemical Peel can come off a little harsh at first. The three-piece, made up of members Ony, Max, and Victoria (also the drummer for Potty Mouth), have no limits when it comes to stripped-down punk that reminds me of timidly watching your way cooler older sibling's band perform in your garage. But there's nothing to be intimidated by – if anything, the aggression that fuels Chemical Peel's music has kept me captivated by their music since I first heard them around a year ago. After dealing with a summer that was filled with frustrating uncertainty, listening to Chemical Peel's newest EP, Bike Thief, feels like the emotional release I've been waiting for. 

Bike Thief is the third album by Chemical Peel and their first vinyl record on one of our favorite small labels, Ride the Snake Record (in the past they've worked with other favorite Fork and Spoon Records). The band has been putting out music together since the summer of 2011 and each effort has shown them honing their skills as musicians. While they began as a group that created fun, messy surf punk, they've evolved into a band that can pierce right through you with thrashing drums and gnarly bass lines and guitar riffs. Bike Thief still retains the punk ethos of Chemical Peel's first self-titled album but shows a visible progress in songwriting that blends emotional and musical intensity. Opening track "Born to Kill" is like a throwback to the vicious punk of the eighties with Max cynically stating "People think they're born, but they're born to kill". The EP continues on a path of destruction with "New Paradigm", which features gruesome imagery and screams over haunting yet punchy instrumentals. "Chance" has Victoria taking vocals and gives the impression that she's taunting whoever or whatever the song is about. The title track of the EP, "Bike Thief", is the fiercest and most energetic song on the album and brings the EP to a chaotic close in just under two minutes. It's an appropriate ending for an album that will suck you in and spit you out before you even know it.

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Listen to Chemical Peel on bandcamp

Written by Emily Thompson