This album by a young Brooklyn foursome turned out to be a pleasant surprise, a quick and explosive 15-song sprint through artistically artless pre-hardcore-era punk and catchy post-punk noise. Doubly good: It gets better with repeated listens.
Apparently the band, co-fronted by singers, guitarists and songwriters Andrew Savage and Austin Brown, previously issued a cassette-only album of four-track recordings. But this is its first proper, widely available album release.
Part of the album's appeal is that it recalls exceptional touchstones in popular music history: Wire, Gang of Four, Mission of Burma. It doesn't hurt if the listener is fond of that brief era in late-20th-century music, but the guys reconnect those dots in bracing and inventive ways, the resulting effect being that their music sounds brisk and fresh.
One of the highlights is the Sonic Youth-esque "Stoned and Starving," during which the band seems to repeatedly lose itself in feedback and distortion, then crawls back, almost gratefully, to the melody several times over. It's a comparative epic of five minutes on an album on which most tracks clock in at less than three.
There's maybe a little Buzzcocks in the way they slip revved-up pop vocal melodies between the jagged guitars, some occasional atonality probably inspired by The Fall, Kraftwerk-style "motorik" drumming, serpentine guitar wrestling a la Television, and droll, conversational singing like that of Jonathan Richman in many Modern Lovers tunes. These guys obviously have great record collections. And this album ought to find a home in some others.