Brooding and contemptible, the new full length burner from Detroit’s (and maybe America’s) favorite post-punk band is a moment-in-time glimpse of the future in a post-consumer economy. While bleak on the exterior, Protomartyr‘s The Agent Intellect is filled with introspection most of us are familiar with; topics like depression, self-loathing, and even a third-person perspective look at his mother’s death through his father’s eyes (“Ellen”) poke through as serious moments for a band who teeters on the verge of humor. But it’s Protomartyr’s, and specifically singer Joe Casey’s, political indifference that is the bedrock of The Agent Intellect.
That’s not to say the band or Casey doesn’t have opinions, it’s that most of them seem to dwell on the notion that we have too many opinions. Replacing the “age of intellect” with the agent of it might be what those of us inundated with social media and the echo chamber of unsolicited opinions face daily. In one of the albums more intense moments, Casey simmers on “Cowards Starve” that “Social pressures exist / And if you think about them all of the time / You’re gonna find that your head’s been kicked in.” Unsettling as it may seem, anyone who’s spent more than a few moments looking at Twitter knows exactly what he’s talking about. Which is why we should all take a cue from the frontman at the song’s close and go out in style. As Casey and Protomartyr deftly illustrate, style and substance don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
The Agent Intellect is streaming in full below. It will be available October 9 via Hardly Art.