Douglas Martin also enjoys a corrida.
Depending on your vantage point, it’s either inspiring or depressing for a band to essentially quit when they’re either in their prime or rapidly approaching it. But on the heels of Public Strain— my favorite album of 2010 by a Snake River Canyon margin– the duo of brothers that make up half of Women got into a well-publicized engagement of fisticuffs, bringing their North American tour to a grinding halt. As the question mark lingers over the band like tinnitus from listening to the indispensable clanging of their tunes at too close a range, what could be their final output slowly starts to trickle out of the famed basement studio of producer Chad VanGaalen. First was the excellent limited-edition promo seven-inch, featuring the angular guitar ping-ponging of “Service Animal” and the dreamy-but-still-kinda-warped doo-wop of “Grey Skies,” showcasing the overwhelming bounty of fruit that came from the Public Strain sessions. And now, after not hearing a peep from the band for almost three months, Faux Discx has placed Women on a split-single at what is probably the height of their acclaim, which is too bad for whoever Friendo, Fair Ohs, and Cold Pumas are.
The all-too-appropriately-named “Bullfight” finds Calgary’s greatest tandem since The Hart Foundation exploring a new style and managing the too-rare feat of sounding only like themselves. It’s hard to tell whether frontman Patrick Flegel’s vocals resemble a bleat or a honk, but either way, he sings like some type of bird with a long neck, and it fits well with his band’s singular use of dissonance-as-melody. Sounding like Krautrock on cough syrup, “Bullfight” is carried by a bass-heavy groove with the striking, slinking, and swirling of heavily reverbed guitars occupying the front end, filled with meandering, random notes flashing like a poorly arranged group of fireflies circling the backyard.
Not much differently from Public Strain‘s perfect closer “Eyesore,” the song ends with an extended coda with distant, glittery, chiming guitar chords inching their way toward the horizon, taking their sweet time to fade out. A fitting irony considering the band’s abrupt stop. Yet there’s a thrilling sort of sadness that comes with closing your eyes and listening to the end of “Bullfight”– what could be the band’s run fading out, as the oscillating noise fogs up the scenery and eventually turns into silence.