For the last couple of years, Detroit’s Protomartyr has released a slew of great music that stays with listeners well after the release dates. From their last full length Relatives In Descent to their E.P. Consolation, the band has expanded their sound while still delivering some of the post punk music to ever get released. It seemed like they couldn’t topple the dense structure of Relatives In Descent until now. With their new album Ultimate Success Today out tomorrow, the Michigan four piece extends the realms of what they’re known for without abandoning their past at the same time.
Opening with the harmonic bliss and layered instrumentation of “Day Without End,” the band keeps their dark tones while adding extra sounds that unveil such orchestral moments. The bass line that curls above the drums and the brass offers plenty of depth, taking you into the depths of the song’s balance. The build of tension at the end ticks up the pressure and never relents. Followed by the stark and cutting tones of “Processed By The Boys,” your ears are rewarded with the hearty and piercing sounds that the band has perfected. This gets sequenced by the harsh and thunderous sounds that play out all over “I Am You Now.” While the song is bleak in its message, it plays perfectly with the times we’re all going through right now.
And while the album is littered with messages of finality, if this was the last album that Protomartyr ever released then it’d be one hell of a swan song. “June 21” is haunting and dispart, it still delivers plenty of magic within its hallowed tones. “Michigan Hammers” has the intensity of a band playing in a room on fire. Delving between going hard and still finding the right use of brush strokes to still paint the perfect portrait. This is Protomartyr in a deep dive, there’s very few moments that don’t come off as weighted, yet the way the songs are arranged and constructed is sheer magic.
And where songs like “Tranquilizer” sound like free jazz filtered through a post punk lens, or how “Modern Business Hymns” chimes like a bell ringing the call for arms to rise up against the wealthy; it’s all so well constructed that finding a favorite is difficult. But if you had to choose, the upbeat yet fierce sounds of “The Aphorist” could be an easy choice. Lead with Joe Casey’s signature vocals and a drum that sounds almost dystopian, the way the reeling guitars cut just underneath to craft their own swirl of gurgle is masterful. The pacing of the song never deters, yet in its absence of broken melodies and it’s strengths as a well written track there’s plenty to desire. The latter half of the track bleeds into a snarling and unfettered sound that could be angst or even the world coming to an end, but it’s really just a band expanding what you think post punk can be.
Ultimate Success Today is available for preorder on various formats directly from Domino Recording Co. before it’s release tomorrow. It will also be available to presave on all streaming platforms or to preorder from all digital outlets.
Image Credits: Photo by Trevor Naud.