The name is a complete misnomer: The Sweet Release of Death is a band, and self-titled album, buzzing with late-night energy. They give off the kind of head-nodding, body-shaking vibrancy capable of bouncing a whole room full of pop/rock/indie lovers.
This feels like a gig in a dark sweltering club someplace – it’s easy to visualise stage lights haloing vocalist (and bassist) Alicia Ferrer Breton while she yells “After all I only try to make it a little bit better for us,” while Martijn Tevel steps forward to smash out fast-handed guitar shards, brittle sharpness splintering all over each song. Meanwhile, Sven Engelsman on drums creates the skittish wired excitement present on ‘Smutek’, the feverish pulse and click that keeps ‘Solaris’ on edge, as well as the anthemic big drum breaks that keep every minute motoring relentlessly forward.
Make no mistake, this is pop music; the furiously razored guitar and alternately shrieked/deadpanned lines on opener ‘The End’ are actually almost the harshest sounds on the whole album – it suggests an attempt to clear the weak-stomached out immediately. Persist and what one finds are well-crafted songs, cyclical guitar riffs that hook the ear, lyrics worth catching – the noise is pared back, used sparingly and, therefore, effectively wherever a surge of electricity lends sizzle to a song. A standout moment is ‘Downstairs’, the most visible story-song here. The tale is laced entirely in disquieting, sparse non-sequiturs which build tension beautifully around refrains like “It’ll get better…Don’t go downstairs,” or the gently spoken “Touch me, again, I called your name again…” The Sweet Release of Death harks back to an era where music didn’t have to feign smiley faces to be legitimate club-filling, energising, sing-along pleasure. On the evidence here, this Rotterdam trio could call down the apocalypse while keeping a crowd dancing shiny-eyed and mesmerised through each moment of the true end.