Dead Retina's debut 7-inch Two Young Cops is a speedy, tuneful record that combines the artlessness of second-wave New York punk with the reductivist Stooges aesthetic found in the same era of pre-hardcore Los Angeles.
Signposts of Dead Retina's forebears prop up often—from the Raymond Pettibon-influenced black and white cover art to the nihilistic lyrics and Stiv Bators' (but even more gravelly) bark of vocalist and bassist Peter Leon—but Two Young Cops won't be causing any town hall meetings or riots. What was once perceived as dangerous in the late-'70s is now party music. While the authenticity inherent in the band's angst isn't up for debate, a song like "Gone" is more fun and rousing than anything else.
Along with its anthemic hooks, the thematic contradictions in the lyrics of the EP's title track render it the record's highlight. Ostensibly a tale of corrupt law enforcement getting kicks from cracking the heads of the innocent, the sentiment turns murky via Leon's wordplay: "Two young cops and they're lookin' for action ... rockin' and rollin' in their fuckin' patrol." Extract the phrase "two young cops," and what's left is a pretty great description of Dead Retina's music. Though this is likely the polar opposite of the song's intended message, the fact that it would raise such a left field question makes it challenging and far from just "rockin' and rollin'," though it does that just fine.
"Another Life" seems to acknowledge this ambiguity in its opening line, "what a mess we made." But if Dead Retina made a mess, it's one they may want to remain in.