Punk bands shape and reshape to accompany political and social climates; it’s the nature of the medium, and the epitome of American defiance. And nobody today does it quite like Institute. Since their inception in 2013, and leading up to the release of their sophomore LP, Subordination, out June 2 on Sacred Bones, an audible shift has taken place, both in the nature of lyrical content, and the moribund snarl that constitutes their tone of voice. The record’s first single (also its last track), “Powerstation” is a conflicting maelstrom of doomed out melodic themes, catchy rhythms, and hefty lyricism. Right out of the gate, it slams into you, a bewildering force aimed at the gut and grabbing you by the nape of the neck and you’ve got to hear this. A main riff, dark and threatening, descends like the mothership of some b-movie alien invasion and it’s just beyond everything. It’s something from which you know should run but its petrifying force and your morbid curiosity keep you put.
But it’s not fantasy. The song, as vocalist Moses Brown notes, reflects the unfortunate state of modern societies and the forces that run them. “Police, government, masculinity in general, all are power constructs meant to put people down so the people running the show can get laid. It’s one of those incredibly detrimental walls that the human species will never get around.” It’s a horror show that humanity has created for itself time and again, with no end in sight, and he can only view it through the obscured glass of a funhouse mirror, embodied by bellowing, granular punk.