Life in Vacuum Commander Clark

Just when you think you've got a hold on Life In Vacuum, they take their crazy freak-outs in nine different directions. Although, truth be told, there's nary a moment that they stay still long enough to peg them anyway. The Waterloo, ON quartet have taken their synth-driven, hardcore-tinged art punk to a new conceptual level on first full-length Commander Clark, which is based on a short story about "life in the fifth dimension and its inhabitants," though the story is nearly impossible to glean from vocalist/guitarist Sasha Chornyy's throaty wail. Reminiscent of Toronto's DD/MM/YYYY, Life in Vacuum feel consistent in their inconsistency, matching post-punk jerkiness with rockabilly riffs in "Light Bulb" and grinding, sludgy breakdowns with poppy sing-along lines in "Storm"; it's a feat manageable only by a group of musicians as tight as these guys. Commander Clark is indeed an ambitious undertaking, but it's a rewarding listen for those who don't mind being challenged every now and then. (Independent)