Album Review: Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect

Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect

It’s irresistible and so eloquently convincing that despite their claims of failure, Protomartyr are unstoppable.

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As Promomartyr stated in their last album, ‘Under Color of Official Right’, “I’ll take that applause, because I deserve it,” there was a hint that they were well aware they’d achieved exactly what they’d set out to. Sure, it was announced sarcastically and bubbling with a charismatic disenchantment that was in keeping with surroundings – but they really did deserve that acclaim, even if it’s still trickling in with cult fervour.

‘The Agent Intellect’ then represents the next jump. Wit and intelligence remain, as Joe Casey’s detached delivery whips through ‘The Devil in his Youth’ and ‘Cowards Starve’. The album starts intriguingly, with a pronounced build into a more chaotic mid-section. As ‘Boyce or Boice’ twists to its end with requests “to remove that fire from thine eyes, please”, ‘Pontiac 87’ hangs on an inch-perfect Interpol-esque riff before corrupting it into the roaring monster of ‘Uncle Mother’s’. Like the floor falling away from you, Casey begins the song sounding more menacing, more hateful, the guitars defect from tuneful to tense. Having released the hounds, with bloodthirsty animals suddenly tearing all over the place, ‘Dope Cloud’ proves only a barking intro to the bite of the next song. Positively unhinged ‘The Hermit’ is the bottom of the hole Protomartyr have dug with squalling guitars and a chorus of “They lie, they lie, they lie!”.

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Are Protomartyr trying to teach the world something? If one word summed up Protomartyr it’d be “decay”. The Detroit 4-piece seem to have cornered the market in soundtracking everything getting worse. Which is why ‘The Agent Intellect’ works so well; it starts with a slow drip and builds to a raging flood. It’s irresistible and so eloquently convincing that despite their claims of failure, Protomartyr are unstoppable. They’ve won. And they’re going to need a whole new round of applause.

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