The Body is one of my favorite active bands at the moment and has been for the past several years, primarily because of their uncanny ability to completely alter the atmosphere of any setting through their music. The vile aural sickness that they produce is packed with so much dense emotion, so much suffering and sadness that one can’t help but sink into a sorry state of bleak nothingness upon being entrenched in their sound. It is an exquisitely deafening sadness that knows no end, but is utterly satisfying in every way. Another one of The Body’s most uncanny traits that lends to their continued vitality is the fact that they are never complacent in their sound. Their records are always unmistakably them, but they are also always unmistakably themselves. That is to say, none of their albums could ever be confused for each other. From the syrupy doom riffs of their self-titled release, to the electronic death of 2014’s I Shall Die Here there has been a constant addition of new tricks to further supplement the assault they produce. And when they add a new wrinkle to their game, they don’t forget it. These additions aren’t gimmicks to be displayed for one album and then tossed back in the junk drawer in favor of the next new trick. These are constant steps up for The Body. Additional pieces to the overall puzzle that is their nihilistic art. Further supplementing this, the constant infusion of new talent and ideas from the various collaborators the two men have worked with over the years enables the continued evolution of this signature, hellish sound. The Body’s latest album, No One Deserves Happiness is the culmination of these additions so far, and a testament to the nihilistic fury that is their music.
I’m sure you’ve read one hundred times by now that The Body’s self-stated goal with the recording of No One Deserves Happiness was to record the “grossest pop album” of all time. At a cursory glance, that might seem an outlandish claim for a band rooted in the darkest of experimental metal, but upon listening to the album and recalling all the nuanced elements borrowed from their previous works, the statement definitely has some truth to it. The tribal drums, manic shrieks, and grimy distortion characteristic of The Body’s back catalog is still in full effect on this record. Also returning are the dramatic feminine cleans, albeit used slightly differently on this release. The more discernible, perhaps accessible singing of Chrissy Wolpert and Maralie Armstrong guiding the songs down a harsh and horrifying path, starkly at odds with Chip King’s litch-like screams. The album’s deceptive hooks and melodies march a relatively straightforward path, touting influences such as Beyonce and the 80’s dance scene, as though Chip King and Lee Buford decided to apply their special brand of hell to significantly less challenging to listen to songs. These poppish song structures are supported by unorthodox instrumentation such as trombones, cellos, and programmed drums alongside King and Buford’s standard guitar/percussion assault. The album winds it’s way into familiar territory and back through more experimentation, combining and recombining so many nuanced elements of so many different genres and styles yet all at once remaining true to The Body’s aesthetic and unrelenting delivery.
Another of The Body’s most prevalent strengths is their uncompromising approach to their sound. Their aforementioned strengths of identity and evolution are not solely unique to them, though them exemplify better than perhaps any other active band. However, when those strengths are combined with their absolute refusal to soften their sound or alter their message of misery when it comes to the approach they take to their art, it creates the monumental avatar of woe that The Body has become known as. They can color outside of the lines without losing the vivid impact their music has. They can incorporate trombones and cellos, choirs and drum machines and still be just as devastatingly dark. They can make tongue-in-cheek jokes at their own expense and still be taken seriously. They can make a pop record and still sound just as unrelentingly hellish. They don’t take themselves seriously or go out of their way to be scary and off-putting. They just are. The Body is an astoundingly unique band because they know who they are, and they hate it. While they are willing to adapt and add more and more to their repertoire, their core of hatred and despair still remains the same. And that makes them unquestionably one of the best bands doing it today.
No One Deserves Happiness is out March 18th on Thrill Jockey Records.