The new one from Protomartyr is, of course, a beast. It is a thing of brute force and subtle mood, a simultaneously undulating and restive animal. Relatives In Descent, out Friday on Domino USA, is the band's 4th record and it's sure to be the sort of thing that sustains listeners with real music in an age of disposable pop nonsense.
There are points here on Relatives In Descent that feel fresher and lighter than on previous Protomartyr records, and yet the undeniable force of the band's music is still palpable even, for instance, on "A Private Understanding", the early taster of this long-player. "Here Is The Thing" swings in a neat approximation of Eighties Wire, while "Caitriona" crackles with a fuzzy Fall-like energy. If "Don't Go To Anacita" is positively catchy, other numbers, like the spacious "Windsor Hum", seem designed more for maximum mood than to become a ditty that one whistles upon the album's conclusion. Sometimes, like on the blistering "Male Plague", Protomartyr find a way to merge the divergent impulses in their art and, like Queens of the Stone Age or something, make largely compelling music that burns with intensity and which remains easy to appreciate and absorb.
If Relatives In Descent is more nuanced than other titles in the Protomartyr catalog, it's no less full of fire. Protomartyr make music that remains remarkably distinctive in an era when so much of what passes for alternative music is anodyne and generic. Brimming with menace, this new Protomartyr record is a furtherance of the band's mission, an extension of their uniquely sinister brand of angular post-punk just a little more into the near-mainstream.
[Photo: Daniel Topete]