Health is just one of many (along with No Age, Mika Miko, and others) young L.A. bands kicking out the jams in the grimy all-ages venue known as The Smell while preparing to knock their tunes out to a larger audience (although with their signing to Sub Pop, one could say that No Age is already there). Like their brethren, Health is a bit hard to pin down musically, touching on everything from screamo to no-wave to free-form noise. On their self-titled debut, they blast through eleven tracks in just under thirty minutes, and like a lot of debuts there's some filler to go along with the killer (and hey! at least there is some killer).
The group actually recorded the album at The Smell with vintage ribbon microphones and despite the open settings it sounds immediate and punchy, capturing all the raucous energy of the group. "Heaven" kicks things off, and it morphs from ring-modulated guitar wisps to a stomping, but slightly subdued piece with hushed vocals and tingling synths. "Girl Attorney" blows everything out the door as the group blasts through just over thirty seconds of mathy shredding while "Triceratops" and "Crimewave" take the baton and slightly streamlines things into noisy, pounding pieces that veer between brittle dance punk and noise rock.
The middle of the release finds the group drifting off into more freeform and somewhat noisy pieces as "Zoothorns" explodes yelped vocals, radio signals, and guitar feedback into a cloud of sound while "Tabloid Sores" is laser-fried guitar blasts, thumping tom-tom drums and screams to punctuate things. At their best, the group pulls off both skeletal and murky electronic pop ("Glitter Pills") as well as a track that sounds like dream pop gone sludge-tastic (the amazing "Perfect Skin"). As mentioned above, it's not a completely focused debut, but there aren't a whole lot that are. The high points are high, and while there are some soft spots, the short running length pretty much insures that nothing is going to run on too long. If you like unhinged and unpredictable rock music, you probably won't go too wrong here.