Meat Wave used to write about other people’s failings. The Chicago punk outfit’s previous releases doled out judgements on society and the state of the world, but on ‘The Incessant’, frontman Chris Sutter has turned his focus inwards. It’s a brutally honest record, the product of a catastrophic breakup and a near mental breakdown, a sonic representation of the all-pervading sense of anxiety Chris felt after the end of a twelve-year relationship. Album opener ‘To Be Swayed’ deals with indecisiveness and the impulse to run, its sharp riffs rapid as a panicked heartbeat. ‘Bad Man’ and ‘Run You Out’ are similarly self-eviscerating; ‘Bad Man’s choppy guitars and flailing percussion capture the sense that the band see themselves as the villain in their own story, while ‘Run You Out’ speaks of selfishness and solitude.
Elsewhere on the record, the Ella Fitzgerald-inspired ‘Birdland’ leads our protagonist’s transformation in lamenting a loss of innocence before acceptance creeps into the dark and disjointed instrumentals. Final track ‘Killing The Incessant’ ends the album on a defiant note, as Chris kills off his anxiety and comes to terms with his own perceived flaws. ‘The Incessant’ marks a turning point, as Meat Wave tackle their demons head on.