It’s the fourth edition of Unknown Pleasures, and Getintothis’ Patrick Clarke has been digging around North America for punk, pop and prodigious alt-rock.
Though often derided for it’s alleged simplicity, punk is one of the hardest forms of music to get ‘right’. Perhaps its that the shock value of a safety-pinned lout welting out three chords has long since numbed, or perhaps the internet’s flittering taste is after more than mere energy, but being in a 21st Century punk outfit requires a special something. Whatever that ‘something’ is, San Francisco’s Terry Malts have it, new track Don’t lending an affecting edge to straight-up punk-rock without sacrificing an ember of the genre’s vital fire.
Lying somewhere between the grand vitriol of Fucked Up and the claustrophobic dynamism of Iceage, Don’t filters a melancholic chord progression through crumbling walls of feedback and then just ramps up the tempo. The result is a track brimming with vitality, only enlivened via the juxtaposition of a languid, apathetic vocal.
Across country to Vermont, things are indubitably daintier for candid six-piece The Smittens. Wistful and delicate, what they lack in edge the group replace in charm, and though undeniably saccharine at points have more than enough allure in their tunes to forgo it.
Upper West Side, the opener of brand new album Love Record Breaker, is arguably the LP’s strongest point, and essentially distills their virtues whilst laying back on the sugar. Delightfully banal in its lyrics, crisp in its tones, vocal duties glance about the group, though each member has a humble magnetism. Elsewhere the record is divisive, but the title track is a superb example of sentimental twee-pop; whether or not that’s damning by faint praise is up to you.
Last of all it’s a welcome return to Montreal, though one half of the marriage at the heart of Thus Owls can find her roots on an island village, just north of Gothenburg. It was in Sweden that Simon and Erika Angell met and produced two albums, but it’s a move back to Canada that both cemented the wider lineup and gave birth to their stellar new effort Turning Rocks
It’s sheer professionalism that strikes about the album,their instrumental affluence at no point overbearing on Erika’s mesmeric vocal. It’s a demanding listen, and they’re a band with an abundance to reveal, collating their eclecticism into something truly eminent.