Protomartyr is a post-punk band hailing from Detroit and “Relatives in Descent” marks their fourth studio album. This was my first foray into Protomartyr’s music and after this I may have to take the time to work backwards through their discography.
I must have listened to this album four times yesterday morning and after taking a break for a few hours I couldn’t wait to hear the whole thing again. I could hear a lot of great things on my first listen which can be rare for me, the old school punk influence evident in the singalong choruses of “Don’t Go To Anacita” and “Windsor Hum” and the socially and politically conscious lyrics. But I could also tell the album would be a grower once it hooked me in and that it did.
There is a great variety in the track listing with the aggression of “Male Plague”, the poetic verbosity of “Up the Tower”, and the effortlessly cool “Here Is the Thing” that feels like I’m listening to some kind of punk beat poetry. I would be remiss not to mention “Night-Blooming Cereus” which is a beautiful song and showcases a great vocal performance. Speaking of which, the performances from each band member are excellent and each instrument has its time to shine.
The quick and clean guitar licks in “Male Plague” are fun and the trebly guitar tone contrasts well with the thick bass and when the distortion kicks in and we’re greeted with a warm wall of sound. The bass has some great leading moments, in particular with “Here Is the Thing” and “Corpses In Regalia” and the drums are on point with every track.
Protomartyr brings a lot of melodic sensibility to this album and it keeps the flow brisk through the 40 minutes, which is great to have considering the brooding atmosphere throughout the album. The lyrics are incredibly poetic and add another layer that will keep me coming back in the future.
There isn’t much to complain about with “Relatives in Descent” and I think future listens will only continue to make me appreciate what Protomartyr have accomplished with this album. I was struggling to decide for a while if the score should be an 8 or a 9, but hell it deserves the 9, who am I kidding?