'An emotional rollercoaster of a record, but one that is well and truly worth riding'
Tom Dibb
13:28 14th July 2020

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Detroit post-punk outfit Protomartyr are gearing up to release their fifth LP, Ultimate Success Today. Brimming with harsh guitars and lo-fi bass hooks, it forms a brooding and intense affair that creates an aptly fitting air of discomfort for the modern day.

Opening the album is track, ‘Day Without End’. Kicking off with ominous bass lines which drive the track it establishes the atmosphere of the album going forwards. Aggressive, angry and slightly haunting. It drags the listener into their own distorted world. Following on from this is ‘Processed By The Boys’, with the track being nothing short of a wonderful sensory onslaught. The riffs, in particular, are an odd blend of harsh and punky sounds but with a clear funk influence. With the end result being the sound of a post-punk Nile Rodgers.

The tone of the album takes a clear shift with ‘The Aphorist’. This is a slower, more melodic offering with piano driving the track as opposed to guitar. Gentle guitar permeates the track, elevating its elegance but never detracting from the lead piano. The lighter side of the album is continued within the following tracks, ‘June 21’ and ‘Michigan Hammers’. This is particularly evident within the later track which contains a very mid-2000’s indie rock sound. However, it must be noted that the vocal deliveries still hold as much venom and anger as on the darker cuts of the album.

‘Modern Business Hymns’ showcases the ability of the band to remain fresh and innovative in their sound. Modern day acts such as Shame, Fontaines D.C. and IDLES have all cited Protomartyr as key influences in their sound, and the weight and innovative qualities the band possess are on full display here, as this track would comfortably fit within the cannon of any of those bands. It’s a wonderful piece of punk rock adrenaline.

Closing out the album is, ‘Worm In Heaven’, which is the undeniable highlight of the album. It is a wonderfully introspective track, tender and heartbreaking in equal measure. The sombre melodies combine with the gut-wrenching lyrics to create a truly tragic offering. The lyrics tackle the universal theme of being forgotten, with the line, “I am the one in heaven, remember me, how I lived. I was frightened”, standing out in particular. It is, simply put, a brilliant closer to the album.

Ultimate Success Today, is an aggressive and unflinching listen. Filled to the brim with screeching guitars, ominous bass and pounding drums in never lets up in terms of its intensity. Even the softer, more tender moments of the album make for sorrowful listening. It is an emotional rollercoaster of a record, but one that is well and truly worth riding.

Ultimate Success Today is released on 17 July 2020 via Domino.

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