Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right

Hardly Art

As a big fan of Cloud Nothings’ recent Here and Nowhere Else I felt pity for Detroit’s Protomartyr upon discovering they were opening for the Cleveland band’s spring tour. To try and match that band live or even get people to show up could’ve been tough but lo and behold Protomartyr have come up with an album that is a worthy contender.

Their first album 2012’s No Passion All Technique was rough-around-the-edges post-punk the kind of angular racket you’d expect from a band that once featured a member of Tyvek. But Under Color of Official Right shows some major headway has been made.

There’s no denying this band is fond of The Fall but it’s not an open-and-shut case of idol worship. Protomartyr have their shit together backing Joe Casey’s Nick Cave-stained growl with ferociously tight-assed rhythms and riffs that sway between fuming distortion and leads that like Real Estate’s Matt Mondanile take over the song completely.

Protomartyr’s “economical rock” is bleak as hell quite literally. Seeing as they’re from Detroit the bile and vitriol that fills up Under Color of Official Right all feels genuine. And I can’t tell you the last time I truly felt that way about a record.