Mirrored Body — the latest full-length album from the Memphis-based noise rock group Pressed — sounds like getting in a drunken fist fight with what turns out to be your own shadow in a barely lit, debris-strewn alleyway behind a cacophonous bar. The noisy record is grimy, forceful, and at times whimsically disorienting — while remaining utterly entrancing, like the events suggested by the album are playing out on a prerecorded and unchangeable loop.
As Pressed bring the threads of their latest songs together, Mirrored Body repeatedly bursts into a staggering reverie, suggesting a scene like gleefully hurling wooden chairs at the wall in that bar, which turned out to be empty and abandoned. Since the songs often prove relatively grueling, the hint of surreality that runs through the shifting melee of this album feels rooted in despair, as though Pressed are sonically capturing moments when searing internal anguish uneasily leads to something like bellicosely shouting at the sky, as though it would somehow respond.
Rather than more all-encompassing release, like that which might be found across a stretch of teeming nightlife outlined by bright neon lights, Mirrored Body suggests exhaustion, like stumbling down a forgotten city street and taking swings at half-broken signage that hangs off-kilter where it once beckoned revelers.
Mirrored Body sounds coated in filth, as though the songs have somehow just been extricated from a crumbling, vacant warehouse. Generally speaking, the mixes are thick, and the songs move rather quickly, which helps the jarring impact feel inescapable. The swinging guitars are unrelentingly abrasive, while the other elements of the band’s instrumentation similarly suggest seething menace. Rhythmically, Mirrored Body seems contorted, with the songs following erratic paths that could be compared to the impact zones that would be left behind by swinging a sledge hammer into a chunk of concrete.
Pressed sometimes sound like they’re veering a bit into punk, although they’re never quite as unencumbered as one might expect from the most straightforwardly oriented iterations of that style. Mirrored Body does bound ahead, but the record seems weighed down by churning, caustic anguish. The songs are genuinely heavy — although on the flip side of that, Pressed never evolve into a straight-up sludge vibe, despite hints of that being present. Instead, the energy stays up, which amplifies the sense that the record reflects something like cavorting through a pit of muck rather than getting stuck.
Quicker moments across the record pack something like unsettling frenzy, while comparatively mellower passages sporting a thinner mix zero in upon the anxious rhythmic contortions that fuel much of the record. Across the entire runtime, any slower moment is followed by Pressed promptly catapulting back into something more intensely formidable, and on tracks including “Yes Officer” and “Part Too,” that grows into punk-like confrontational aggression. Meanwhile, “Pity Teeth” proves particularly varied, featuring a more pointedly moody vibe.
Overall, the record is quite invigorating to listen to — it’s one of those albums that brings up memories of rollicking live concert experiences from its very first moments. The strength in the songwriting that would translate to a memorable evening in a packed bar is obvious right away — and the record brings some of that to wherever its listeners might be found.
Mirrored Body by Pressed is available in full now via The Ghost Is Clear Records.