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Protomartyr Relatives In Descent Domino

Existential dread, elusive truths. Fear of moral decay, fear of corporate self-interest, the fear of leaving nothing behind of worth. Protomartyr tackle this territory better than any other band we have. Relatives in Descent picks up where 2015’s The Agent Intellect left off, skewering modern anxieties with wit, dignity and thunderous fury. The Detroit band’s fourth album was recorded in LA by producer Sonny DiPerri (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors), and he’s teased out an even greater complexity from their sound. Details shine through the haze, and the gut punches hit harder than ever. Greg Ahee’s giant, metallic guitar on My Children is ferocious, and lights sparks on Joe Casey’s bone-shaking baritone as he spits, “Good luck with the mess I left, you innovators.

Here Is The Thing’s bullet-pointed, newsroom listings grow more insidious at every turn, from surveillance to comic sans, to choosing between “necessity and health” and the human cost of profit. Partly inspired by the Flint water crisis, this record is a vital missive from isolated, post-Industrial America. Casey’s surrealist lyrics fall between poetic spoken word and scrambled frustration, and drummer Alex Leonard and bassist Scott Davidson knit together each story with relentless, time-ticking propulsion.

Still, Protomartyr have a rare skill in finding a single star in a murky, polluted night sky. Their’s isn’t a glamorous kind of optimism, but they believe that goodness persists. The album concludes with half a warning, half a promise: “Truth is the half sister/ that will not forgive/ She is trying to reach you.”