David Settle has been on a hot streak for releasing music this year as the Philadelphia musician is responsible for The Fragiles back in February and the excellent Psychic Flowers album in July. Settle now returns with another established moniker of his with Big Heet that also finds former Ex-Breathers drummer Adam Berkowitz joining him. Playing The Bug is the groups third LP and not only separates itself from his other monikers but also from Big Heet’s previous material.
Big Heet’s debut, On A Wire (2017), was much heavier as it held onto some of Settle’s earlier hardcore sound with Ex-Breathers. The group then moved into a more distorted post-punk with 2020’s Hiss. Playing The Bug moves another step forward in the post-punk realm as the music slows down a bit while cleaning up some of the distortion out of the vocals. The album is much different from the earlier releases but the density of these eight tracks is where the album shines. The intense opening song “Body Of Noise” is one of the best representations of the new direction with its early Blonde Redhead and Sonic Youth arrangement meets Wire’s overall pulse. When Settle sings “You sold the soul, and I took it down” the track just has a cool drop in energy that meets the lyrics perfectly.
There is tons to like in the records 19 minute runtime as “Life Is Limitless” is a banger that really features Berkowitz’s perfect timing on the drums while “New Temp” has the instrument grind beat and vocal mix that reminds of Girls Against Boys. “Go-Getters” is another stand out song on the record as it trickles along and builds until its wall of sound explodes during its last minute. The memorable track’s layered vocals finds a spoken word delivery in the front while the chorus hums along behind the lyrics. The fantastic line of “The myth of success / Unrest in excess” captures my ear every time.
Playing The Bug is another great outing this year from David Settle and just the fact that he can release three solid records that are a completely different listen but still connected is impressive. He definitely is an indie artist that should be followed as Big Heet is another big exclamation point why!
Key Tracks: “Body Of Noise” / “Life Is Limitless” / “Go-Getters”