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.

Stand-outs:

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.

Tracklisting:

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

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

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