Annie Sachs stands out from the noisy, psychedelic underground pack. Along with Circuit des Yeux/Cromagnon and U.S. Girls, she puts out unique, personal albums that feel like peeks into a creative process, rather than tossed-off performance, self-consciously “weird” rock or fetishized throwbacks. At certain points on last year’s Tickley Feather, Sachs cut through the buzz and drum machines and let expressive singing and melody reign. I was hoping that she might focus and expand on this warped Claire Hamill demo sound, and while Hors d’Oeuvres has its share of moments where Sachs pushes herself, most of it retreats into safe territory: shitcan drum machines, dinky casios, processed vocals, two to three minutes and we’re out.
The album is good, but Sachs can do better. Tickley Feather showed that she could tap into something personal and hypnotic, and parts of Hors d’Oeuvres build on this and bring her within reach of what revivalists like Cold Cave consistently fail to accomplish. “Trashy Boys” has the elements of a standard Tickley Feather track, but the drums hit harder, and Sachs’s voice actually sounds engaged and vulnerable, rather than as just another element in the sonic stew. She repeats the trick on “Club Rhythm 96 and Cell Phone,” her singing heavily distorted but still gloriously riding the degraded beat. If she were to tweak this style and think of her tracks as leading to remixes and instrumental dubs, she might actually warrant them. In contrast, Cold Cave pretend like the last 20 years haven’t happened.
These two tracks are successful attempts at capturing and furthering the rhythmic, noisy, fun, melodic bliss that Front 242, Trisomie 21, Daily Fauli and every other Wierd influence perfected. As it stands, Sachs seems a bit too shy to put herself out there like that. But if she did, it’d be a bold step forward.