Deli Girls-I Don’t Know How to Be Happy

Anger, while it can be ugly, can also be beautiful. It’s cathartic, unleashing rage against the injustice of an uncaring world can be an amazing feeling. We need happy music, sure, we need music to uplift us and to make us smile, but we also need music to fucking wild out to.

Deli Girls, from Brooklyn, make dance music. I would even argue that they make pop music, but more about that in a bit. So, it’s like dance music, but this isn’t like, happy go lucky “O, let’s just forget our cares and dance the night away,” this is the type of shit that makes you get out there with your buds and thrash around epileptically. Is it industrial? Is it noise? Does it fucking rule? Hell yes.

The first time I heard it, I was like, “This is dumb as shit.” It’s not really, though. I was confusing dumbness with simplicity. There aren’t a lot of moving parts here, it’s all trimmed down to muscle and bones and angular edges. It doesn’t contain much because it doesn’t need much.

The album starts out with an ugly and repetitive wash of noise, and that’s what drew me in initially. Then a distorted bass tone starts rumbling in the background, threatening to overwhelm your speakers, and then just the most basic like electro drumbeat comes in, and then Danny Orlowski starts singing, and from the very beginning, there’s a barely controlled rage bubbling up under every word. Orlowski’s vocals are staccato eruptions, they’re what elevates the music from something “cool” to something transcendent.

Usually, there’s about three or four phrases in each song, just repeated ad infinitem. You might think this would be boring, but you’d be wrong. Orlowski is a performative vocalist, they can scream the same thing thirteen different ways, and after enough repetition a kind of zen state of wrath descends on the album and the listener.

I wouldn’t put this album on while doing the dishes, unless you want to break all of that shit. This stuff compels you to move, even if you’re sitting down. I probably look like an ass in my car when I’m playing this, but I don’t give a fuck. It kills.

I know I keep going on about Orlowski’s vocals, but they make one of my favorite kinds of music, the kind where the vocals are just another instrument. You don’t have to pay attention to what’s being said, the words have a pummeling and percussive energy. I’ve never much thought about the eroticism of anger before, but Orlowski has forced me to consider it. Among the screams, gasps and grunts begin to populate and punctuate the songs. It’s quite astounding.

It would be criminal of me to ignore the other member of the Girls’ contributions. Certainly, Tommi Kelly’s beats and rhythms are simplistic, but no more elaboration is necessary. This is pop music, but it’s the hard and gnarled skeleton of pop music. All that left are the bones and the hot blood sprayed all over the wall and the floor. I fucking double dog dare you not to dance.

Highlights, for me, are “I’d Rather Die,” a rant against the “no fly list,” “Money,” which dares an unknown aggressor to step the fuck up and own his “apologist trash,” and, “Shut Up.” “Shut Up” is propulsive as fuck, and if it doesn’t get you up off of your ass, you’re dead and I don’t even know how you’re reading this. The video game voice over that runs throughout the song makes me smile even as I rage apoplectically. Those are the highlights for me, but there’s not really a dead moment on the album. It’s lean and short and abrasive as fuck. It’s also one of my albums of the year thus far. Give it a shot.

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