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Puerto Rico Flowers: 4

Puerto Rico Flowers: 4

Label:Fan Death
Release Date:2010

Posted 2/17/2010

In the file folder of missed cult bands, Clockcleaner is somewhere very the near the top. The would-be heir to the Jesus Lizard throne released a small handful of records, including the revered Babylon Rules, and threw in the towel sometime last year. Clockcleaner's singer/guitarist, John Sharkey III--imagine a cross between Steve Albini, Calvin Johnson, and Morrissey--has returned this year with a new, and very divergent, project, Puerto Rico Flowers. Clockcleaner's caterwauling punk becomes slow-motion darkwave; Sharkey's spit and nihilism becomes existential dread.

PRF delivers a scant quartet of songs on this debut (with a full-length promised later in the year), four lumbering tracks of Sharkey's voice booming out over everything, a big, bassy instrument that is just plain fun to hear. On "Torture" he sings again and again "drip, drop, my mind says stop" in a slow, hypnotic drone that sucks you wholly into his gloomy, insomniac world.

Which is the story of the record as a whole: It's endlessly listenable/captivating based on these sort of autopilot repetitions--pick up the tempo and this'd be a hit at a club's goth night. Sharkey pushes at the ends of some verses, and even sort of croons, but it's a starry synth that's doing most of the traveling. It fact, 4 almost feels like a purposeful counterpoint to Clockcleaner, part of whose appeal was that nothing was ever the same in any song. That band was anarchy, Puerto Rico Flowers are trainspotting. (Michael Byrne)

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