UUVVWWZ’s The Trusted Language isn’t an easy record—from its opener “No Apart” and forward, the songs are abrasive, almost grating. But that’s the beauty in music that comes from an intelligent place; if any of the eight songs are hinged on emotion over technique, it is well hidden. Teal Gardner’s voice tumbles and sputters, reminiscent of Karen O’s introduction to the larger world on 2001’s “Bang!” Though this is UUVVWWZ’s second album for Saddle Creek, Gardner commands the attention in the same way O’s entrance was surprising and welcome over a decade ago.
Yet in places where O would get breathy, Gardner instead holds on to certain notes as if to soften them, following up quickly with a mouthful of sharp lyrics. “GRIPS” goes into Teenage Jesus And The Jerks territory, with spastic, theory-driven guitar work that fights directly against Gardner’s vocals. She’s definitely a little Lydia Lunch in her delivery, too, but the No Wave tendencies come out more in song shape. Erase Errata is affectionately tapped here too, but UUVVWWZ’s noise is all it’s own.
Song “Open Sign” shows the quartet’s ability to take a straightforward song structure and completely dismantle it from the insides; David Ozinga’s drum beat is coarse and steady, danceably consistent until the last few moments when everything falls apart beautifully. Closing tracks “Charlotte’s List” and “The Trusted Language” are equally awkward and slow but give Jim Schroeder’s guitar and Gardner’s voice a clear platform to play against each other. These latter two songs sound half-formed, giving a glimpse into what UUVVWWZ’s preliminary songwriting might look like. It’s not to say the tracks aren’t complete thoughts—but maybe more of a juxtaposition to the first six, bursting works. “Charlotte’s List” and “The Trusted Language” also work well as a closer to an initially pushy album that warms up over multiple listens.