Seattle trio Helms Alee doesn’t really do dead weight: bassist Dana James, guitarist Ben Verellen and drummer Hozoji Matheson-Margullis all split singing and songwriting duties, oftentimes in the course of a single tune. “Tumescence”—the first cut off of their forthcoming third LP of wonderfully sticky pop-metal, Sleepwalking Sailors—thrives on the tension created by pushing these parts into a tight, three-minute space.
The down-tempo opening is Melvins-level heavy, with serrated dude-yells roared over a thick, martial riff. But in the chorus, James steals the song from Verellen, her keening voice suggesting Kim Deal squaring up with fists. Verellen’s guitar rises to meet her, too, a piercing anti-riff tracing her voice upward through zigs and zags. The antiphonal seesaw two continues for the song’s length, leaving no room to take as much as a breath until the end, when the whole thing collapses beneath its own weight. Sleepwalking Sailors is out February 11 via Sargent House.