Special Interest Endure Rough Trade
Endure. The title of the third album by Special Interest calls to mind a certain mindset that has outstayed its welcome. The collective response to the climate of precarity that’s settled, depressingly, into every corner of our lives across the past few years. But, for the New Orleans punks, the time has come to release the valve.
Maybe that explains why the overpowering theme that courses through the work is escapism: “Scheming past just forward movement/ Building beyond this illusion,” singer Alli Logout screams out on (Herman’s) House, a statement so visceral that it seems to shunt us out of our current malaise by sheer force of will alone. The lead single struts with purpose and poise, its electroclash production invoking visions of the dancefloor. Opener Cherry Blue Intention, lashed to Nathan Cassiani’s noodling bass and Ruth Mascelli’s rapid, drum’n’bass-influenced beats, is perfectly paced for a night on the tiles. The Mykki Blanco-featuring Midnight Legend, true to its name, is a joyous, pop-tinged bop, more suited to the neon lights of a big-room club than a NOLA dive bar. So far, so euphoric.
But these dips into pleasure and release come laced with more poignant observations about the isolation one can feel within nightlife. Logout has previously stated that Midnight Legend is about “listening to people who never actually get heard”, acknowledging that those of marginalised identities are often forced to carve out their own spaces. Logout provides a “soundboard for your visions”, a platform to unload, be free, and unapologetic: “Won’t you tell me all about your story/ And about the day that you didn’t have to fight?”
The positive benefits of community lie at the heart of Endure. But, astutely, so do its failings. Concerning Peace makes direct reference to this: “Compromised modern activism’s soul purpose is individual upward mobility/ And the profit off death,” states Logout over lysergic acid guitar riffs and samples of sirens. It stops you in your tracks – you sense Special Interest know a thing or two about the power structures that fuel performative allyship.
Interlude makes peace with their frustrations. Clocking in at just under two minutes, it is perhaps the most striking moment on Endure. The track starts off as a beautiful, piano-led rumination that sporadically lets in swells of distorted guitar. On first listen, one might feel as though it is ill-placed, meant for another project entirely. Yet, coming back to the song, it becomes clear that Interlude is a tender act of empathy; an opportunity for meditation and renewal.
Interlude would arguably be a good place to close Endure, but album finale LA Blues – at eight minutes long, no less – stresses the need to keep moving forward. Amid the sound of rain and droning guitars, Logout declares, “If you don’t like it you can fuck right off!” before growing more reflective: “I have to believe/ That things will change,” Logout utters, undercutting the bruised nihilism with a sense of hope that feels very Special Interest. This is a band that is running towards the pain, to confront rather than retreat. After all, the only way out is through. As Logout boldly proclaims: “The end of the world is just a destination I had to grow to love.”