Published Feb 21, 2020The sound of NY's Raspberry Bulbs can best be described as post-apocalyptic punk. With a sneering and nihilistic air, filtered through a rust-dusted, jagged lens, Before the Age of Mirrors crafts an atmosphere of simultaneous ruin and strange debauchery amidst it.
The darkness that constitutes the Raspberry Bulbs' sound is evenly matched with a punkish defiant glee. The instruments and production all retain a sense of worn overuse, as though they are on their last legs, used to broadcast through a fizzling-out mic in an old bomb shelter. The instrumentation is as raw and stripped down to match.
Before the Age of Mirrors builds a peculiar aesthetic that is undoubtedly engaging, but it cannot fully prevent the feeling of stagnation that begins to set in at the halfway point. While "They're After Me" and "Doggerel" electrify the mix with a heightened tempo and energy, a feeling of stagnation begins to set in toward the latter half. "Ultra Vires," among others, struggles to maintain its interest, becoming a slog mid-song.
This sense of being stretched too thin is in part due to the vocals on the album, which is a classic punk style of defiant howl, but in such a way that its uniform approach only adds to the building sense of interchangeability.
Raspberry Bulbs paint a seductively dystopian image through Before the Age of Mirrors, but its aesthetic cannot fully carry the weight of its musical shortcomings. There is both too much runtime and too little substance here. (Relapse)