Protomartyr – “A Private Understanding”
The new track by the post-punk wonders from Detroit, Protomartyr, “A Private Understanding” is quite epic. It builds on a brewing barrage of drums and the sinister lash of electric guitars and Joe Casey’s sing-speak, humdrum voice proclaiming gloom: “Conscience wakes despair/The night is an accumulation of dark air/The scholar will be forever poor.” The music swells on the incremental repetition of “Don’t want to hear those vile trumpets anymore” (which soon join in on the song’s swelling skronk) until it all falls away to the contrast of throbbing, delicate strumming of guitars decorated by a bit of piano only to be smothered by an assault of even louder guitars. Then it’s all stirred together in layers at the halfway point for a desperate refrain, “She’s just trying to reach you,” Casey repeats as the din swells again. It’s a fine example of creating anticipation with familiarity in a wash of noise that only grows more ecstatic as it reaches toward climax. A rich, deceptively intricate work that reveals a grand new sophistication for the group and bodes well for the group’s new album Relatives In Descent.
Relatives In Descent comes out Sept. 29 via Domino (you can preorder the limited edition maroon/white starburst vinyl, with 24-page lyric zine and 22” x 22” fold out poster here).
From Miami, Chicken Liquor, self-released a video for “Quince” at the end of July. Directed by the Miami-based performance artist Antonia Wright who rolls her nude body through a church and meadow, among other places, via quickly hacked up edits, the video should be preceded with a warning for epileptics. The vivacious power pop of the trio seems tame in comparison to the video’s energy. Even the appearance of a peacock for the song’s guitar solo is presented in manic cuts. The song’s driving energy speaks to the classic power in “power trio.” It’s no wonder these guys warm up the stage around town for the likes of another local, strong power trio, The Jacuzzi Boys. They also made a fan of David Bowie before he passed away, so there’s that.
So far, TORRES’ “Three Futures” may be the most moving song I’ve heard this year. The seesaw melody — a mix of what sounds like cello and guitar that recalls the spectral gloom of early His Name is Alive — punctuated with fuzzy, staccato bursts of electric guitar against a sparkling swell of spacial electronics defy typical pop song constructs. A more contemporary comparison may be St. Vincent but that would shortchange the track’s restrained, pent-up delivery. This haunting, barely-there melody buoys an instance of conflicted love with a surprise ending. In her husky smoky voice, singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott soothingly sings, “You didn’t know I saw three futures/One alone and one with you/And one with the love I’d knew I’d choose.” A clash of visions that connotes both the complexity of a momentary thought and the sprawl of life. It is represented in a stunning music video directed by Ashley Connor, who also shot TORRES’ previous and much more anxious video for “Skim.” Full of humor and domestic malaise, Scott plays three roles that finally merge together for a creepy/sensual pose in menage a trois.
TORRES’ new album Three Futures comes out Sept. 29 via 4AD (you can preorder the Initial LP pressing comes on gold vinyl here).