New Zealand band This Kind of Punishment may have been on the famous Flying Nun label at one point in the past but their music sounds almost nothing like any other band on that label. Ever. The band's self-titled debut album from 1983 and their second album, 1984's A Beard Of Bees, are being reissued on the superb Superior Viaduct label this week. Each release is a revelation for those of us who are fond of Kiwi rock, and eager to learn about some real unsung pioneers of the post-punk era.
This Kind Of Punishment straddles a stark line between what Bauhaus and Joy Division were doing in the era, with drone-y cuts like "Don't Take Those" and "In View Of The Circumstances" striking out into morose territory, while the more propulsive "Two Minutes Drowning" ventures into the sort of areas John Cale pursued on his more experimental solo records. Elsewhere, the very nearly-lovely "Ahead Of Their Time" sounds like "Spirit" by Bauhaus, to mention that obvious point of inspiration again.
The second album from This Kind Of Punishment, A Beard Of Bees, sees the band use a more robust approach, with a cut like "From The Diary Of Hermann Doubt" offering up a more conventional guitar-oriented attack than the eerie ballads that filled up the group's first record. "Although They Appear" suggests that the band were heading into a folk rock-flavored direction, with the prominent acoustic guitar here softening the starkness of the band's approach. A Beard Of Bees ends with the epic "An Open Denial", a track that leavens the group's semi-dour methods with a softer, minimanlist melody underpinning things.
The band This Kind Of Punishment never made music that was easy to love. They were, as these 2 records illustrate, clear pioneers, and the sort of band that were truly operating on their own, largely outside of trends in the era. If the music here feels a bit timeless, that's a plus, as the 2 records hardly sound like ones made in the early Eighties by the band's peers in the music world. Instead, This Kind Of Punishment and A Beard Of Bees are semi-masterpieces of a sort, serving as nice reminders that the New Zealand rock scene was capable of producing more than just memorable guitar-rock, even as the 2 members here -- Peter and Graeme Jefferies -- had more traditional careers as musicians after this, Peter as a solo artist, and Graeme as a member of The Cakekitchen.
This Kind Of Punishment and A Beard Of Bees by This Kind Of Punishment are both out on Friday via Superior Viaduct.