Retox - YPLL

Not a punk record for people who like Blink-182 but a punk record for people who like punk.

Label: Epitaph

Rating: 8

In the video for ‘Mature Science’ the second track on this, Retox’s sophomore album, they slit the throat of a KKK Klansman. You got that? This is not a band who are here to fuck about - All Time Low they ain’t. Indeed, from second one of ‘YPLL’ it becomes apparent that the San Diego quartet are as focused as they have ever been as their scintillating no-frills punk swirls around the listener in a miasma of rage and frustration and middle-finger-up attitude.

Sure, Retox blur the line of punk, hardcore, metal, thrash and the surrounding sphere of genres but so much more than that, they are the musical embodiment of a nihilistic and genuinely dark manifesto. We live in a hopeless world and this lot are here to underline that fact in no uncertain terms. Ostensibly a total headache of a record, ‘YPLL’ clocks in at just under 20 minutes and pulls you from pillar to post throughout. The moments of respite are rare and when they come are nearly as disconcerting as the mayhem that frames them – the swelling electronics of ‘I’ve Had It Up To Here I’m Going To Prison’ give way to battering ram punk beats and Jason Pearson’s abrasive to the point of confrontational vocals to devastating effect.

Moreover, there is a directness and simplicity to this record which renders it exponentially more potent. The song structures feel, in relative terms at least, uncluttered and stripped down, resonating with a fury that can barely be contained by a musical cage (see ‘Congratulations, You are Good Enough’ for a demonstration of said power in action). That threat of violent overspill is what gives this album so much of its charm, the idea that Retox could rip themselves apart from within at any given moment offers a sense of jeopardy that is both alluring and repulsive – you suspect that is the aim.

If you are a preexisting fan of the band then ‘YPLL’ will scratch an itch that has probably persisted since you first heard their debut ‘Ugly Animals’. Alternatively, if you enjoy your rock n roll with a nasty strain of misanthropy shot through it and appreciate a warts and all approach to music making then you find plenty to enjoy here. Not a punk record for people who like Blink-182 but a punk record for people who like punk.