Review: Sex Swing ‘Grade A Peanut Sauce’

During my recent interview with Jason Stoll he mentioned how Sex Swing‘s last album Type II got sadly lost in the Covid chaos and having reviewed that album for The Shaman, I can wholly testify to that fact. The good news is the band are currently hard at work on a new opus (their third) and in the meantime, we have this little live album to keep us ticking over.

Sex Swing 'Grade A Peanut Sauce' Artwork
Sex Swing ‘Grade A Peanut Sauce’ Artwork

The album is a recording taken from last year’s Sonic Whip Festival in Nijmegen, the band’s first European show since Covid. As a quick recap, Sex Swing are a sextet consisting of Dan Chandler on vocals, Jodie Cox on guitar, Oli Knowles on keyboards, Colin Webster on saxophone, Stuart Bell on drums, and Jason Stoll on bass guitar; it should be noted however that Webster was unable to make this particular show so a friend of the band, Otto Kokke (Dead Neanderthals), stepped in to lend a hand.

A passing observation, Grade A Peanut Sauce raised an eyebrow as it recalled previous food related titles of albums from yesteryear such as Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water, although less said about my embarrassing early listening history the better. Anyway, onto the review…

The majority of the tracks on the live release are taken from Type II with only Nighttime Worker emanating from the band’s 2016 Self-Titled debut. This makes perfect sense seeing as how the band were unable to tour the former. The Passover which kicked off the aforementioned Type II, does so once again here. Early ‘80s Sonic Youth no-wave meshes brilliantly with Otto‘s wailing Ornette Coleman/Albert Ayler sax attacks. In addition, you have Dan Chandler‘s top quality John Lydon/Mark E Smith styled delivery for accompaniment, can’t go wrong there.

Sex Swing may self-deprecatingly claim ‘we don’t have many riffs’, but they possess grooves in spades…

From there we are plunged straight into Nighttime Worker, with little to no room for respite. The track is historically important to me as it was my first ever exposure to the band (thanks to Shaman Lee) and has a sleazily pulsating funk beat. At the end of the track Sex Swing may self-deprecatingly claim ‘we don’t have many riffs’, but they possess grooves in spades, so you can see how I could be hooked. Valentine’s Day At The Gym marks the album’s halfway point, tribal motorik drumming and throbbing Birthday Party fashioned post-punk make it the very anthesis of Valentine’s Day.

Skimmington Ride is positively claustrophobic in tone, suffocating in fact. It makes listening to The Cure’s Faith seem like a laugh-a-minute affair by comparison and it’s to the band’s credit that they manage to evoke this type of reaction. There’s an Eastern-style mysticism also present that I missed the first time around which further adds to the track’s impact. I mentioned Peter Hook and Joy Division in my Type II review when talking about Betting Shop and how it’s like a long-lost track. This remains the case and continues the darkness.

Garden Of Eden, as on Type II, concludes the whole affair and is the album’s longest track at well over nine minutes. It’s a pretty mellow number for the most part taking cues as it does from krautrock, particularly Can, as well as the more fusion-orientated wing of the genre like Kraan. An outstanding parting shot.

For the most part, I always found live albums a little redundant, a glorified greatest hits set at best. However, there was no chance I was going to pass up another release from one of my favourite bands of recent years. A superb collection that hits the spot.

Label: Sonic Whip Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills