Published Nov 07, 2014Sometimes, it seems that the only way for a band to distinguish itself is to come up with a sound so obnoxious that people can't help but have an opinion. Cellphone's six-song cassette EP hit all the right sour notes: churning punk-metal guitars over tinny electronic beats shot through with cheesy synths and cartoonishly anti-melodic vocals. It sounded less like an exciting new genre than an elaborate inside joke, but behind all that deliberate mugging were the makings of a seriously effective metallic punk band. With Excellent Condition, the Toronto-based quartet have ditched the silly sounds and cranked up the intensity for a debut that lives up to the high standards one would expect of any release from their new label, Telephone Explosion.
While singer/bassist Mike Wirth Broff maintains his over-exaggerated sing-speak delivery, those comedic elements work much better when contrasted against the edgier production — think Pissed Jeans, but faster and with less spittle. Cellphone are just as comfortable launching a full frontal assault — as on the breakneck hardcore of "Greenish Black" — as they are grooving under a melodic guitar line ("Human Rights"), and producer Don Pyle (Shadowy Men From a Shadowy Planet) has done a stellar job capturing both the live energy and the nuances of their noisier layers. Add in some atonal shredding that would make Greg Ginn proud (on the excellent album closer, "Bad Medusa"), real drums and a brilliant, distorto-bass–heavy reworking of their own "Storm Chaser," and you've got a full-length debut that arrives in, well, excellent condition. (Telephone Explosion)