Saturday, September 26, 2015

Protomartyr : "The Agent Intellect"

On first listen it seems like its business as usual for Detroit's Protomartyr as not much has changed since last year's " Under Color of Official Right". Joe Casey's voice is more about attitude of his narration  than melody as he doesn't sing the first actual note until the chorus of "Cowards Starve". There is a more up beat CBGB styled punk to the frantic jerk of " I Forgive You". Some synths are real low in the mix and the guitar tone continues to lean toward the shadows in the more melodic moments. It meets that place in the early 70s where rock n roll and punk rock were more closely connected. "Boyce or Boice" finds the guitar holding down the static line somewhere between tension and a drone. Casey's voice wanders around in a disoriented manner over the upbeat drums. He chant "Let them into our home". The songs b-section hits a smooth reflective mood.

The darker , colder post-punk sounds comes in on "Pontiac 87". Casey's voice takes on more of a croon. They find the right balance between abrasion on melody here. The dynamics are there and its clear to me that this is what I want more of from this band. They pick up the tempo, but stay on the darker side of what they do on "Uncle Mother's". The guitar shifts into more of surf rock tone here. The guitars go into a dizzying and  angular bridge, before dropping out. The guitar gets more  aggressive, but in more of a Sonic Youth fashion. At times things slow down as if they are nodding out under the  "Dope Cloud" waking up and picking up the pace. The dope cloud is descending all over this town according to Casey.

Some weird atmosphere and faint samples open "the Hermit" before the bang back with a more punk like energy. Casey announces he doesn't think so because they lie, they lie , they lie. The drums become more frantic under the gloomy atmosphere of "Clandestine Time" as Casey croons a little more than simply providing a narrative. The guitar tone gets a little more  Cure like here. "Why Does it Shake " in someways doesn't feel as focused more like Nick Cave jamming with Joy Division. Though they eventually rock at with more distortion than Joy Division normally would."Ellen" is simple but effective showing that melody and mood always win out at the end of the day. The guitar tone is somewhat Sonic Youth like on this one. The build up on this one is very subtle.

The album closes with "the Feast of Stephen" which finds the guitars carrying more of a jangle. The vocals are more of a mumble over what becomes more of a drone, until the bass line becomes more prominent. This reminds my of 90s indie rock like Sebadoh. The change is very marginal on this one , it might be a few degrees more introspective than the last album, but if you like this band every thing that works for them is still intact, I'll give it a 9.


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