This is a review of "s/t" recorded by Sailors. The review was written by Ben Partridge in 2008.
For Leeds based four piece Sailors, this is paradoxically, both their first and last ‘proper’ release, as they have in actuality already split up, playing their last gig earlier in March. This minor ontological discontinuity doesn’t detract from a posthumous listen however, as the guttural stutter-punk on offer would sit well either side of the Atlantic with fans of post-hardcore from the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s alike.
The Sailors EP represents the quintessence of modern day punkisms, recalling early and abrasive Fugazi, the most wampish moments in Minutemen’s discography, and the aberrant vocalisms of Jello Biafra. Revelling in such progenitors, but executed with the wry indifference of people too intelligent to merely get angry, this is definitively post-punk. There is ticklishly angular, difficult to the point of differential calculus guitar, which meanders askew like a rabid slaunchways cowboy atop the unmethodical syncopation of the stammering, rambling rhythm section. The erratic bass, with its deliciously crumbly, gnarled-wood tone, and the chunky and thoughtfully tortile drums, provide the most interesting of underpinnings for the duelling vocals and guitar perched catawampus atop. Entirely no passable attempts at melody or harmony are made, but in recompense, and more appealing perhaps, the thick and gritty character of Sailors musical malapropism, when rendered on vinyl, is curiously tactile invitation to relish in abject, throwaway fun. Sailors possess a strong family resemblance to Bilge Pump in this respect, but also, especially in the opener ‘Hot Buttons’, there is a whiff of more indie-oriented art-rock such as Ikara Colt or Kill Kenada.
The possibility remains of course that Sailors only ever amounted to plain and graceless noisenik posturing, as has been remarked elsewhere in webland. However this is surely a truism of sorts, and a compliment; for in the case of this release, the more warped and disfigured the music is, with greater apparent artlessness, the more shouty and spluttered the vocals are, the more maximal the intended effect upon the listener will be, of such absurdly askant and yet still considered music, to cause unsettling but delightful intrigue. There may not be a great deal of originality in this approach, but the sheer paucity of great punk music demands that when an unfussy (tri)angular shape such as Sailors thrusts forth so promisingly, even a square hole would suffice.