If there ever was a month in which we needed a band to give us a Network-esque “I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore” to call our own, it was April. We needed this month's best album like a guard at the gate. We desperately needed a band able to collect all our paranoias and anxieties, our angers and our cynicisms. Our mayors smoke crack and threaten liquidate our city's fine art to pay for simple public services (functioning street lights, ambulances). Our politicians get away with the same scandals that keep us glued to reality TV shows, while a celebrity tabloid scandal magazine rests in our laps. It's a goddamned carnival freak show out there and it's making decisions that affect us now, affect us for generations to come. When it feels like the very idea of innoncence is as real as a unicorn, that's when we need bands like Protomartyr most. As smart as they are brutal, Protomartyr spoon fed those leaders of men their own shit jargon back into their baby mouths by reappropriating “under the color of official right” to suit a public need rather than a slippery weasel's safety net. They wrapped it into a post punk dirge without being too idealistic, still responsible enough to remind us this never was supposed to be a fairy tale. And then they ate brunch like the rest of us.
The Best Album of April 2014:
In this spirit of enduring futility comes Protomartyr’s Under Color of Official Right, a desperate, invigorating paen to resistance against our everyday demons: “Greedy bastards, rank amateur professionals, gluten fascists… recent memories,” and “terrible bartenders.” These are all on singer Joe Casey’s list for extermination in “Tarpeian Rock,” a dissonant jag named after a cliff in ancient Rome used to execute criminals and liars. Casey’s voice is a unique brand of everyman bark, the unmistakable shout of your neighbor cutting through the picket fence. It’s also remarkably versatile. The band can squint at The Spits or echo The Fall, and they also share style with their peers Tyvek. Protomartyr is exceptionally skilled at draping the starker edges of punk over pop hooks, and guitarist Greg Ahee can linger on a shimmering, solitary minor chord just enough to make Paul Banks choke.
Still, the band’s true enemy feels like cynicism. Protomartyr shouts “Stay, illusion!” not because they want it banished, but because the illusion is all we have. Live it while you can. After all, as Casey reminds us in the album's closer “I’ll Take That Applause,” there’s “nothing ever after.”
For more Protomartyr coverage read our interview here.