In 2007, Carsick Cars
supported Sonic Youth in Europe and released their eponymous debut album,
announcing themselves as one of the most important bands in China. At the time the trio – Zhang
Shouwang, Li Weisi and Li Qing – were at the epicentre of a Beijing underground
music scene that was garnering considerable international attention and their
fuzzed-up noise-rock tracks, drawing heavily on the sound of Thurston Moore and
co, became anthems for a generation of Chinese gig goers.
Seven years later
and, despite a number of line-up changes (Zhang is now the sole remaining
founding member) and a slightly underwhelming
second album – 2010’s You Can Listen, You Can Talk – Carsick Cars remain
one of the biggest bands in the country and China’s best-known rock export.
Add in the four-year wait since their last album proper and to call their new
Maybe Mars-backed LP a highly anticipated release is an understatement.
entitled 3, for the most part the album jettisons the swirling guitar
waves that saw tracks on the band’s previous efforts regularly spiral into the
best part of ten minutes in favour of a slicker, punchier approach. Following
infectiously jangly opener ‘Wild Grass’, excellent instrumental track ‘The Best
VPN So Far’ seems set to mushroom into a classic lengthy Carsick Cars
exploration of sweeping static only to fade out before reaching the five minute
These two tracks set the tone for the rest of the album, with Zhang and
bassist He Fan seemingly content to leave their more experimental, electronic
tendencies to their respective side projects, White+ and Deadly Cradle Death. Parts of the record do hint at the sound found on White+'s excellent debut album, but in general 3 presents a far more streamlined sound. Throughout, the album
is tight, well produced and many of the tracks seem primed to become
bounce-around live favourites in the vein of ‘Mogu’ or ‘Zhong Nan Hai’.
are moments where you wish the band would unshackle themselves running time-wise,
but the closest offering is the inclusion of a longer version ‘Wei Cheng’ – and
that’s still an irrepressibly catchy pop song. 3 is far from
revolutionary, but it’s a solidly likeable rock album and next month’s Shanghai release show (on
March 7) is one not be missed.
Carsick Cars will release 3 in Shanghai on Friday 7 March