Album Review: Protomartyr Under the Color is Bleached Out

Protomartyr. Photo Angel Ceballos Protomartyr. Photo Angel Ceballos

For convenience’s sake, let’s call Protomartyr’s Under the Color of Official Right a post-punk record, but that would still somehow be only a fraction correct. Protomartyr whips between what has become punk structure and off-kilter set-ups, using tones that range from what would be found on any of today’s indie-rock darling’s latest releases to classic punk fuzz.

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I won’t lie: what attracted me to the album was its opener Maidenhead. The track’s guitar riff is simple, the tone is reverb heavy, it’s catchy. When I first heard the lead vocalist, I was slightly disappointed. I was hoping for a more melodically gifted performer to accompany the instrumentation. But what he lacks for in melodic ability, he makes up for in his performance energy.

I really wanted to like this record. And I do, don’t get me wrong.

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The word that I thought the most while listening to Protomartyr’s sophomore release was “counterintuitive.” On a 14-track album, I am ready to say that I really enjoyed about half of them. The others either fell flat or left me questioning the direction of the songwriting. I have listened to the intro of Bad Advice over and over again, but I’ve skipped about a minute and a half in to hear the chorus instead of putting up with the disorienting verse portion.

But isn’t that what you’d expect from a punk record? Counterintuitive is me saying that I didn’t anticipate some of the turns on this album. Some hit, some missed. But Protomartyr is telling the mould to fuck off.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff on this record and I am but one man.

Rating: 3/5

Average, memorable moments, but mostly forgettable. Maybe in a few years, a part in one of their songs will get stuck in your head and you’ll wonder where it’s from and then you’ll forget about it in a week only for this same thing to happen maybe a month and a half later.


Maidenhead, Trust Me Billy, I Stare at Floors, Come & See, Violent, I’ll Take That Applause, and of course the first 10 seconds of Bad Advice.


Ain’t So Simple
Want Remover
Trust Me, Billy
What the Wall Said
Tarpeian Rock
Bad Advice
Son of Dis
Scum, Rise
I Stare at Floors
Come & See
I’ll Take That Applause

Protomartyr is playing at Il Motore with Parquet Courts and Tyvek on June 9, 2014.