Fuck Buttons

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Photograph: Matthew Walford

Music Hall of Williamsburg; Mar 27, 2008
Bowery Ballroom; Mar 28, 2008

Sure, many’s the band that can craft beautiful sounds out of hideous, repetitive noise. But Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power, who make up Bristol’s Fuck Buttons, prosper where most fail, thanks to a strong sense of melody and dynamics. Having said that, the British duo’s debut LP, Street Horrrsing (ATP), is rarely a smooth ride. The songs—nearly all of which run between 8 and 11 minutes—typically begin with a cyclical melody or pattern before building gradually in tension and volume, and most include some form of hair-raising, chest-rattling racket. Fuck Buttons’ music is highly rhythmic but not what most people would consider danceable, despite the reactions of some crowd members in the band’s live clips online. Perhaps it makes sense that many of those same people also appear to be trying to sing along with the duo’s distortion-drenched, completely unintelligible vocals, which can sound like anything from Trent Reznor on a bad day to audio recordings from an Apollo moon mission.

Much has been written about the fine line between pleasure and pain. Fuck Buttons live on that line, and the sensation that wins out depends purely on the ear of the beholder.

—Jem Aswad

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