Thus far, it hasn’t got nearly the hype that it deserves, but Michigans Protomartyr dropped one of the finest US post-rock offerings since… well, Ultimate Success Today, their last album.
In a time we’ve spent far too many hours mapping out the topography of the UK’s recent post-punk and alternative boom, we’ve noticed the US isn’t necessarily lacking in it, but we don’t seem as moved by it. But Formal Growth in the Desert, Protomartyr’s fifth slab of contemplative noir, is an undeniable feat not just in regards to post-punk, but by committing to its own themes and intentions.
The vaguely atmospheric but always driven production has never been more effectively executed, with every transition given the breathe, or lack thereof, it deserves. This hyper detailed subtlety regarding the record’s most minute parts wasn’t exactly necessary, but it does help wring every emotional implication that you can. It’s not that the sound has changed, just that certain parts fit together or feel more securely attached than they ever have.
Every Protomartyr offering seems to have different meditations, all perpetuated by the sea-change of the reverberating guitars and intricately lo-fi drums, but Formal Growth in The Desert attempts to lift the sonic veil, however slightly – it can feel as straightforward it is obfuscatory on rippers like “Let’s Tip the Creator,” “Polacrilex Kid,” and “3800 Tigers.”
While the US might not have a lot of directly correlative peers we can think of, if you enjoy Calgary’s Preoccupations, Montreal’s Ought, our perhaps even Chicago collective Algiers, you’ll find a lot to enjoy in Protomartyr’s latest.
Even if a post-punk record isn’t necessarily meant to sound one particular way, it’s good to come across a real rager, or real generator party, as they’d probably say. The album’s sandy settings never sound dated, either – it’s far more of a Las Vegas outskirts kind of trip, with city lights still detectable in the distance. You know, that little stargazing trip to the desert sounds pretty good right now, and we’ve got just the soundtrack.
If you can’t afford the gas, that’s understandable. Just take the shortcut and be sure to jam Formal Growth in the Desert here as loud as possible, as quickly as possible. And you can buy us a coffee here. You’re gonna need some good karma while you’re out there, we’re sure of it. Coming up we’ve got The Armed, Kevin Hufnagel, a small surprise, and then THATS IT! We’re taking a couple weeks off to clean up around here. Thanks for reading!