Glittervomit is the dizzyingly energetic sophomore LP from Birmingham, Alabama-based psych-punk outfit The Burning Peppermints. It’s a record that grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you over the course of its lean, 26-minute runtime — but these are eight songs that you’d be dancing to anyway.
The album is the follow-up to the band’s 2015 debut Dirty Rainbow!!, a fuzzed-out record that introduced the group to the Birmingham music scene. That album was a low-key release, initially handed out during that year’s Secret Stages Music Discovery Festival on a handmade run of 25 CDs. Glittervomit retains its predecessor’s lo-fi, west-coast aesthetic, but now the band is signed to the Kansas City, Missouri-based label High Dive Records — and with a full-album release, including a vinyl pressing, the record’s a considerably higher-stakes affair.
Musically, Glittervomit is carnivalesque experience, filled with hall-of-mirrors guitars and a flamboyant, chameleonic vocal performance from frontman Jake Wittig (guitar, vocals). Ahmad Farzad (bass) and Ryan Colebeck (drums) round out the three-piece’s lineup. But, with one notable exception, the record’s psychedelia is anchored by real-life, relatable emotions — songs written from both the beginnings and ends of a relationship, from starry-eyed love/lust to bitter, post-breakup malaise — all thrown at the listener like crumpled-up letters written in the midst of a particularly catchy temper tantrum.
But first, that exception: the delirious “Mary Margaret,” the album’s second track, which Wittig characterizes as the Glittervomit’s “nonsense song.” Wittig’s vocals are submerged beyond legibility under layers of reverb and distortion, but they’re emotive nonetheless, as he shifts from frantic muttering to a gutteral yowl. (Think Dirty Beaches’ 2011 album Badlands, plus a hell of a lot of caffeine.) Instrumentally, the song plays like a blend of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” and the synthesizer odysseys of the Doors.
The breakup songs on the record stem from events in Wittig’s own life, and they play as the rawest parts of the record. Opening track “Don’t Try to Lie to Me,” for instance, is a sludgy, defiant anthem (“Fuck this shit / I’m going home!” Wittig howls at one point). “Blockhead,” which serves as the album’s de facto centerpiece, starts as a glittery-yet-melancholy guitar ballad before exploding into a high-energy retrospective of a failed relationship. “I knew that we were in love… We’ll always be in love, love, love!” Wittig howls on the track — though in his nasal howl, there’s a sharp undercurrent of bitterness recognizable to anyone who’s gone through heartbreak.
One non-breakup highlight comes late in the album, in the form of the jazzy “I Need to Be Alone (With Him),” one of the few mid-tempo spots on the album that gives you time to catch your breath. The track’s hazy production and Wittig’s lovestruck songwriting strongly echo the restrained sexiness of Van Morrison’s “Moondance.” But the Burning Peppermints don’t like to stay tethered for too long, and the track’s building tension eventually gives way to psychedelic synths, a rollicking guitar solo, and Kinks-referencing vocals. (The homage is intentional; here’s a sample lyric: “He’s really got me going / He’s got me so I can’t sleep at night.”)
But these aren’t all songs about relationships. Like any good punk record, Glittervomit has its aggressively political moments — in particular, closing track “Crybaby,” which sets its sights on the big, orange elephant in the room. The song sees Wittig screaming over propulsive, churning guitar chords: “You’re going to lie, lie, lie, lie, lie and get away with it / Oh you’re the man, you’re the man, you’re the man, with the biggest hands!” No prizes for guessing who he’s singing about — but is this really an era for subtle political protests? “You cry, cry, cry and you run that hole,” Wittig shouts, with an appropriate mix of derision and frustration.
Like the music on Glittervomit, The Burning Peppermints don’t stay in one place for too long. Wittig says the group has several in various stages of completion. There’s Witch Mountain, which Wittig calls “darker and really, really fast.” There’s also Dr. Foster’s Incredible Edible Psychedelic Mystery Experiment, a Flaming Lips and Sgt. Pepper-inspired concept album — ”If Willy Wonka had a rock band,” Wittig says.
If those gestating records paint a picture of an ambitious band experimenting with genre boundaries, Glittervomit serves as a concentrated, less conceptual snapshot of that creative restlessness, with the Peppermints’ exploratory energy boiled down to a tight, 26-minute statement that will leave you wanting more. And don’t worry — they’ve got plenty more.