Protomartyr is post-punk outfit from Detroit, Michigan. They’ve been slowly gaining popularity on the national stage, beginning in 2014 with their debut, Under Color of Official Right. This was followed by the even more acclaimed sophomore release, The Agent Intellect in 2015, and finally by Relatives in Decent which was widely considered by critics to be one of the best albums of 2017, and one of the best post-punk albums of the last few decades.
The group is notably for their doom instrumentals, droning style, and above all, for Joe Casey’s poetic, Sinatra-esque vocal performances. The many, seemingly incompatible influences which build this group culminate in a sound which is wholly unique, and often takes a few tries to enjoy. Despite their inaccessibility, however, Protomartyr enjoyed a fairly extensive US tour last year and are now lauded as one of the most exciting acts in modern rock music. This year has been devoid of a traditional studio release, as one would expect after such a busy schedule in 2017, but that hasn’t stoped the rockers from dropping their first true EP, Consolation.
The EP is perfectly in line with what we’ve come to expect from Protomartyr, to the point that it almost comes off as a collection of unused tracks from Relatives in Decent. Alex Leonard’s drum work is particularly impressive on the opener, “Wait,” where his fast hands and heavy cymbal shots drive an atmospheric track along a steady pace. Scott Davidson’s bass line is the clear highlight of an otherwise uneventful closer, “You Always Win,” and “Same Face in a Different Mirror” is a unique entry to the Protomartyr catalog, focussing on far more personal topics, as apposed to the group’s usual penchant for outwardly political lyricism.
The best track on the project, however, and one of the best tracks that Protomartyr has ever released has got to be “Wheel of Fortune.” Clanging guitars, screeching overdrive, and a driving bass and drum combination lay an apocalyptic base coat which is soon polished off by one of Joe Casey’s best performances to date, both lyrically and vocally, and a fantastic feature from Kelley Deal on harmonies. Focussing on the brutality of modern capitalism and it’s effects on the third world, Casey writes with his signature poetic touch and a rhythmic stream that lulls a listener into a sense of comfort, slipping lyrics by in a way that plants them deeper within the psyche than they’d generally be allowed. It’s just a master class in songwriting from one of the bands in the modern rock scene.
This EP is far from a perfect release, but it’s a much appreciated update for fans of this very promising group.
HEAR CONSOLATION: https://open.spotify.com/album/5XOHZ0WQFA1ivHjHDfFqoN