In theory, artists should push their work with each production. Especially when production takes nearly the time a US president completes their term in office. It’s only reasonable for an audience to expect something new from an artist in that timeframe. Of course, this scenario is an ideal assumption, but this is not the case with Kubota’s new EP, Aftermarket Romance, in which they created their latest work by expanding on ideas from their existing catalog.
Aftermarket Romance is the fourth release from these Bordeaux stoner punks who predate Twitter’s ascension. Across the nineteen years Kubota’s roamed the Aquitaine, they’ve released a slew of EPs. An LP is long overdue by this time, and indeed they’re aware of that, or at least the only consistent member, Max Coste, is. Coste’s involvement in French punk includes doing time in Rennes-based metallic hardcore band To Learn, his post-hardcore unit Castle Ruins, and the melancholic shoegaze four-piece Suif.
Building upon what’s already there seems to be Coste’s mantra throughout Kubota’s catalog, and Aftermarket Romance doesn’t stray from this idea. The six songs take cues from the fuzz punk riffs which comprise their Watt Is Love EP and incorporate the polished production value heard on their Afterlife Servants EP. The standout trait separating Aftermarket Romance is that the six songs have more dynamics and melody. In other terms, Watt Is Love sounds like they were going for the sound of Eddie Glass era-Fu Manchu, the polished post-hardcore structure of Afterlife Servants parallels Quicksand’s Slip, and the muddy, stoner melodies of Aftermarket Romance resembles the later catalog of Torche. All wrapped in an illustration that resembles Kraftwerk records created by his Suif co-conspirator, Grace Killing.
The band is a trio at the time of recording but has now expanded to a quartet upon the album’s release. However, you feel a quartet is in the studio on the first two tracks with the wall of sound octave polyharmonies prevalent in “The Big Picture” mixed with the caked bass distortion of “Melancholy and Ordeal.” The EP slows down a tad and exhibits an emotional feel from Coste’s throat and a slower pace on “Spectroman,” matching the mid-tempo cadence of drummer Thibault Guezennec. The most interesting track on this EP is “The Swarm” due to what sounds like a production technique that rearranges the song’s linear structure and arranges the music in a way that resembles an aerial dogfight between jet fighters, with surprise attacks hitting the listener from different angles.
Aftermarket Romance is streaming through Kubota’s Bandcamp with a vinyl release on the way.