Reviews

The Stick Figures Archeology LP

Tampa, Florida’s best (only?) contribution to the turn-of-the-eighties art-punk discourse gets anthologized! The STICK FIGURES were five University of South Florida students enamored with the serrated grooves of first-wave UK post-punk who found each other in 1979, duly inspired to craft their own ripped-up, danceable sound that wound up running roughly parallel to the what bands like OH-OK, PYLON, and the B-52’S were devising about seven hours due north in Athens, Georgia. Archeology starts with the the four tracks from the STICK FIGURES’ one-and-done 1981 EP (released before the band relocated to New York; they would call it quits soon after), and it’s the sort of beguiling creative jumble that often comes as an unforced by-product of operating far outside of a rigidly-defined scene—“N-Light” is a frenetic bricolage of taut funk bass, trebly guitar scratch, and group-chanted vocals that clearly betrays the STICK FIGURES’ interest in the works of GANG OF FOUR and DELTA 5, while the jangly “September,” with its winsome femme vocals and playful crashes of xylophone, falls closer to presaging early K Records/C86-era shamble-pop. The remainder of the LP is fleshed out with a half-dozen unreleased studio recordings, a pair of live tracks, and an extended, electronically-damaged 2021 revamp of the EP’s “Otis Elevator Dub,” but don’t write them off as filler scraps, especially the keyboard-driven, rhythmic twee rush of “Make a Fire,” the totally sideways mutant funk beat that cycles through “Energy,” and Rachel Maready Evergreen’s deadpan spoken delivery over the angular new wave bop of “Yesterday” like a Third Coast SUBURBAN LAWNS. Undeniable weirdo genius.