Couch Slut's thrilling second album Contempt carries on in the fashion of their 2014 debut, My Life as a Woman, with the Brooklyn, NY band's savagery and intelligence both in full effect. Opening track "Funeral Dyke" sets the tone, with a skronking saxophone buried under a grimy, blackened, noise-rock blitz. Later in the song, a tambourine rattles along happily with the beat as vocalist Megan Osztrosits screams bloody murder. Contrasts such as those on display in "Funeral Dyke" are what make Contempt the engrossing, dynamic affair that it is.
The band's foundation rests on the scorched earth between Unsane's pounding NYC hate-rock and Darkthrone's mournful metal, but Contempt is filled with surprises. The songs are peppered with odd instrumentation – the aforementioned saxophone and tambourine, as well as tuba, trombone, accordion, viola, and concert bells – and tend to begin on one path and end on another. A cold dirge erupts into a chugging thrashfest; a sludgy rocker slides into a wistful jam recalling Sonic Youth's more tender moments.
A consistent force throughout the album is Osztrosits' wild-eyed, hair-raising voice. Harsh and unsettling, every snarled word slashes at nerves. Atop the twisting, writhing, and rocking of guitarist Kevin Wunderlich, bassist Kevin Hall, and drummer Theo Nobel, her confessional lyrics paint horrific pictures of "anger, depression, terror, drug abuse, mental illness, violence, the surreal, longing, and loss." Sporting brains and brawn, Couch Slut makes music that punches the gut and stimulates the mind. Contempt's harrowing version of rock reflects its hometown – dirty, dangerous, dazzling – and secures the band's place in the line of great NYC documentarians, from Sonic Youth to Swans, from Unsane to Pyrrhon.