PROTOMARTYR – ” Ultimate Success Today “

Posted: January 11, 2021 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
Tags: , , ,

“Dull ache turned sharp / Short breath, never caught,” Joe Casey repeats through the closing minute of “Day Without End,” his voice turning from detachment to anger, struggling above the hammering drums, guitars and horns as they remain largely unchanged except in their steadily building, brutally indifferent noise. This begins Protomartyr’s fifth album, Ultimate Success Today, and in many respects encapsulates the mission of the Detroit post-punk veterans’ music. From their first LP No Passion All Technique to their latest release especially, Protomartyr have had a preoccupation with failure, the volcanic eruption of small, petty lives confronting the overwhelming forces, both external and internal, that bind them to their insignificance and vice versa. Ultimate Success Today places that theme on an apocalyptic and disturbingly prescient scale. These tracks paint sketches of authoritarianism creeping dully into everyday life, soulless populism rooting its way into confused masses, animals trapped between choosing death or the pain that comes with surviving, and above all, the illusory promise of success in a world collapsing in on itself. It is, to put it lightly, not a happy world for Protomartyr

Protomartyr’s fifth album is perhaps the most accurate representation of the protest year we’ve heard. It is an emotional rollercoaster of sheer aggression, chaos, stuffiness and sorrow. The occasional rest points only contrast with the continuous tension that is present on Ultimate Success Today. For the rest, screeching guitars and tight drum lines are ubiquitous, complemented by the talking vocals of Joe Casey and on occasion a groovy bass line. For the first time there are also woodwinds present, which provide an extra dimension. The nihilistic atmosphere and intense instrumentation fit with the dystopian story that the record tells. A story that, eerily enough, has been written for corona for a while. The best moment is the seamless transition between “Tranquilizer” and “Modern Business Hymn,”, which makes up for some fatigue among all that threat of war. At least one of the more interesting albums of the year.

Protomartyr – “Bridge & Crown”, taken from ‘Ultimate Success Today’, out now on Domino Record Co.

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