In the liner notes of HEALTH’s third album “Get Color”, Trent Reznor gets sixth billing in the “thank you” section. Upon first listen to the album, it quickly becomes apparent that the thank you goes beyond a simple shout out for their inclusion in Nine Inch Nail’s “Lights in the Sky” tour. While the first track “In Heat” is the classic HEALTH sound of tribal chaos, track 2, “Die Slow”, presents a more melodic approach with an industrial-dance backbeat. The song thrashes yet will have a hum tickling in your throat. Yes, that’s right folks, HEALTH is now writing songs. Deal with it.
While I must admit that it is sad to see their drummer constrained by a simple disco beat, HEALTH’s new approach is more distinct and resolute. They have found their sound, and it’s earth shattering (and ear-drum shattering if you play it at 90 decibels, as requested in the liner notes).
HEALTH continues with the “we write songs” approach on tracks like “Nice Girls” and “Before Tigers”. Jake Duznik’s singing sounds like a forlorn monk, lost amidst the rampage being twisted by the rest of the band. Unfortunately, the new aproach doesn’t sustain throughout the album. And heck, do you blame them? Their tour has been a constant for three years now. As a result, the album features older, unreleased songs they’ve been playing live for years: “We Are Water”, “Death+”, and “Severin”. Not that these songs are weaker by any means, but there is an obvious difference between the older tunes and the newer ones.
You can almost feel the enthusiasm in the new material (or maybe that’s just excitement coming from me upon hearing new songs). Regardless, it is great to see the band pushing their sound toward a new horizon. The album is organized masterfully, starting with a nod to where they’ve been, “In Heat”, moving through an exploration of what they are slowly becoming, and ending with “In Violet”, a purely synth chill-down song, showing that the possibilities for the future of HEALTH are endless.
It will be exciting to hear them when they put it all together in one complete album. Until then, we can enjoy that same rambunctious bedlam that broke HEALTH onto the experimental-noise scene a few short years ago. They are still having fun, trashing through their material at 90 decibels, and maybe, just maybe, Trent Reznor could learn a thing or two from these kids.