Album Review

Protomartyr - Formal Growth In The Desert

Their balancing act between decay and rebirth, love and hate, takes on an even sharper focus.

Protomartyr - Formal Growth In The Desert

“Can you hate yourself and still deserve love?” asks the tender yet acerbic Joe Casey, repeatedly, as he ends ‘Polacrilex Kid’. It’s a lot to ponder, but Protomartyr have never been the band to avoid delving into the philosophical. Six albums in and without ever relenting in quality, intensity and sheer abyss-like emotional depth, this Detroit foursome own such a space in the intellectual, nihilistic end of post-punk that they might as well charge rent to anyone else who dares to cross that territory. Like a melee in a ballroom, Protomartyr’s balancing act between decay and rebirth, love and hate, takes on an even sharper focus here. Touching on so many emotional themes that could swamp another album - his engagement; the death of his mother; leaving his childhood home after a series of break-ins - Protomartyr are uniquely equipped to express and elucidate in the most compelling of ways. They retain their characteristic dissection of contemporary America too - ‘Let’s Tip the Creator’ skewers the billionaire magnates, ‘Fulfilment Center’ the gig economy and ‘3800 Tigers’ might be the first extinction and baseball themed song. It’s definitely the most catchy. The band remain successful at finding lush nuances in their well-established formula and ‘Formal Growth in the Desert’ packs more hooks than any of their albums since 2015’s ‘The Agent Intellect’. Closer ‘Rain Garden’ addresses the earlier doubts, finding anyone deserving of love who works for it, in a cautiously optimistic, delicate croon of “Love has found me,” fatefully blissful and moving. For an act who have spent so much time contemplating their worth and their place, thirteen years into this journey they’re only going from strength to strength. While they’re one of the most expert chroniclers of our modern misfortunes one thing is obvious - we’re lucky to have Protomartyr.

Tags: Protomartyr, Reviews, Album Reviews

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