Reviews

Primitive Calculators is a very funny band: ‘The World is Fucked’ reviewed

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1) Primitive Calculators do not sound like an angry band. It’s a matter of pure speculation whether they’re maybe angry in their intents or maybe angry in their personal lives, but their new record did not make me angry. It made me laugh. I smile when I listen to Primitive Calculators, and that’s why I enjoy listening to this band.

2) Faced with the prospect of potentially writing about a Primitive Calculators album, my immediate reaction was that I wouldn’t, because Primitive Calculators is a legendary band and their history has been told. Anyone interested in Primitive Calculators, I initially felt, has had decades to figure out why they are good or important or neither of these. But The World is Fucked does not sound like a strange old Melbourne band from the late ‘70s reforming for a laugh, because this record proves that their heritage is very unimportant. This Primitive Calculators record is not evocative of any past, present or future ‘condition’. The Melbourne from which they spawned is gone, and yet here they are. Who cares about that old Melbourne now, modern Primitive Calculators do not live there anymore. Primitive Calculators are just some band.

3) I’ve written that this Primitive Calculators record is not evocative of any past, present or future condition, and yet it is called The World is Fucked. Surely this is a topical punk rock record then. No, it is not topical. The world has always been fucked since the dawn of time, and fucked in different ways depending on your vantage point. You may feel like the world is especially fucked now – and it is – but never has there been a time when the world was not inhabited by people who believed that the world was more fucked than ever before. The world is permanently fucked, then and now.

4) As I’ve written above, Primitive Calculators is a funny band. It’s hard to explain because they are not taking the piss, and nor do you feel like they are very earnest. It’s the extremity of their music which is funny, and the way Stuart Grant enunciates his vocals as if they mean something. I’m not sure they do: none of his lines will strike you as worth hearing for the lessons they may teach or the outlooks they may propagate or the feelings they may evoke. Sometimes when I’m listening to The World Is Fucked I imagine a world where every rock, metal and hardcore vocalist painstakingly enunciates their words so that their lyrical sentiments gain primacy over the music. I feel like Primitive Calculators is a very good noise band because they reveal these lyrical soundbites for what they are. If there’s one thing someone who likes aggressive music might object to in Primitive Calculators, it’s that they can understand every word that Stuart Grant sings. It may annoy them to realise that these lyrics are not profoundly angry or moving, but instead profoundly dumb. Because Primitive Calculators is a strange noise band. They don’t allow you to paper over cracks with your imagination.

5) Why exactly do you listen to the new Primitive Calculators album. I don’t know why I do regularly, because it is not euphonic and nor is it very atmospheric. You don’t put it on in the background, you don’t put it on while you’re cooking tea. You pretty much have to just sit there and listen to it. But if you imagine a young man or woman sitting in their bedroom listening to Primitive Calculators, what kind of person do you imagine. I imagine no one.

6) I like The World is Fucked because it apparently aims for nothing less than an assault. Every part of Primitive Calculators’ music is there because it wants to be as obnoxious and confrontational as possible. Look at the song titles: ‘Dead’, ‘Cunt’, ‘Nothing’. Maybe Primitive Calculators find it hilarious that some people consider their lives meaningless. Maybe it’s funny that people must have meaning. Primitive Calculators feels, to me, like the meaningless of meaningless. They punch people in the face at their weakest. Why question your meaningless. Why not just deal with it, because it’s true and always will be. Your mild daily misery at the state of the world and your inability to solve its problems is either permanently debilitating or very funny. It’s like watching a cat repeatedly leap for a ledge it can never reach, or reading a Kafka novel, or planning for the future.

7)  “Why do I even fucking bother getting out of fucking bed in the morning.” When Stuart Grant sings this line during ‘Why’, it is very funny because it is a rhetorical question. Of course he knows why: because he needs to go to the toilet and he needs to eat, and maybe he needs to go to work too.

8) Why does this music even exist. Why do we submit to music so determined to push us away. Some kinds of difficult rock music require the listener to learn whole new ways of listening. Some music, like extreme forms of punk or metal or noise, are only accessible if you identify something inside that you would like to obtain. But to my ears, Primitive Calculators are ugly and unwelcoming on these terms, impenetrable from every angle, and that’s why they’re a very funny band. Primitive Calculators is a stone you might enjoy trying to bleed for a while, and those who stick around will enjoy the trick that there’s actually nothing inside. It’s just noise and sloganistic fury. That is all. It’s funny.

9) One of the best live shows I’ve ever seen was a Primitive Calculators show. It was gloriously stupid. Stuart Grant swore at someone in the audience. I remember no other specific details, but I went away laughing at the way I and others I know will often try to rationalise everything in our lives, because a friend said “why did you bring me here”, and “why do people listen to that”. “Why does it sound like that”. Why indeed.

10) Primitive Calculators is a very funny band. I’m not sure what they have to say about their music because I’ve never bothered reading any interviews. I actually don’t care what they think. I’m confident that all three are smart people – in fact I know, because they’re the Primitive Calculators – but above all else listening to The World is Fucked just feels like beholding the culmination of so many stupidities. Its bluntness and ugliness only serves to illuminate how empty of perfect logic it, and everything else, is. Yet listening to Primitive Calculators on record is not cathartic. I don’t know what it is.

***

Primitive Calculators’ The World is Fucked is available through Chapter Music.

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