Puzzlehead’s collection of garage-punk angst can be a challenge, but by no stretch is the album unlistenable. Rather, it gives the impression of containing two kinds of songs. One type is defined by the shrieked consideration of a mundane subject, which is nonetheless conducted with venom. The title track, for instance, is punctuated by a piercing scream of “trucks(!![!!!!!!]!),” which seems to function as a monosyllabic, forceful chorus. The song is certainly a jarring intro, propped up by repetitive electric guitar and mumbled verses.
The other type of song on Trucks is slower, more haunting, and decidedly easier for home-listening. The album’s best track, “‘Detective”’ is of this category. It presents the vocals of Clarence in a more ethereal and meaningful, less aimless way. The lyrics that are audible enough to interpret ruminate darkly on the difficulty of achieving a human connection through poetic language. The guitar playing of Gloyadkin is forlorn to match, skillfully delivered and nicely juxtaposed with brighter instrumentation. Along with “‘Keychain”’ and, to an extent, “First Name,” Trucks delivers a shadowy dose of vague, minor-key ennui. These songs cut you to the quick with intentional flats, foreboding lyrics, and dreary soundscapes comparable to those of Chelsea Wolfe. Their complexity is captivating, shifting between clear melodies and grainy noise-rock. Anyone in a state of depressive vegetation (crying in bed with the blinds down) will feel quite on-brand listening to these songs.
In contrast the other, heavier tracks on this album — like “‘Trucks”’— sound better in a mosh pit. “Key Chain,” for instance, possesses a melody and guitar riff reminiscent of the post-punk sounds of Parquet Courts and Swans. But the poor production quality of Trucks’ heavier songs certainly falls short in comparison to those bands. The low fidelity and bad singing of these tracks distract from their emotiveness. Fortunately, the less harsh songs beautifully tow the line between listenability and rock coarseness.