Personnel: Seth Sutton (vocals).
At their best, Useless Eaters are the best new wave nightmare to ever haunt your sleeping mind. Their music conjures a buzzy netherworld of noisy synthesizers, slashing guitars, pounding percussion both real and electronic, and thickly processed vocals suggesting a robot who doesn't give a damn about Isaac Asimov's three laws. Released in 2016, Relaxing Death finds Useless Eaters near the top of their game, with group founder (and current sole member) Seth Sutton delivering a prime slice of dark but satisfying synth-centered pop that bounces along with a sense of purpose while the machines lurch along, barking and sneering. The 12 songs on Relaxing Death recall late-'70s and early-'80s synth punk, but while the electronics do most of the talking here, Sutton's music feels alive, as if he's woven some flesh and blood into his banks of cheap keyboards. The presence of his tinny guitar figures and rudimentary but clearly real drum tracks makes Relaxing Death sound like it came from a garage rather than a laboratory, and the music is all the more powerful for the grit. Sutton has a real talent for melody; these tunes may be gloomy, but they stick in the ear and they cohere into an oppressive but impressive world of their own by the time the album has wound to a close. And you can even dance to it (well, at least some of it), if that's your thing. Relaxing Death is just as cheerful as the title would lead you to expect, but it's also smart, compelling, and not without flashes of mordant wit. If you've ever wanted to party with a robot with a bad attitude, this is the ideal soundtrack. ~ Mark Deming