The hardest part about describing a band such as Protomartyr is that it channels so many different influences into its music at any given time.
At their most catchy, the four dudes from Detroit create an enviable mix of lo-fi, shoegaze and post-punk — imagine Cloud Nothings meet Lower Dens.
That is “Come & See”, a track off Protomartyr’s sophomore album, Under Color of Official Right, which dropped in early April. The disc is 14 songs strong and touches on all the best elements of indie rock. (Here’s a link to “Maidenhead“, the album’s opening track. Click it; it’s worth the effort.)
Lead singer Joe Casey occasionally channels his inner Ian Curtis, particularly on “Ain’t So Simple”. At other times throughout the album — such as on “Trust Me Billy” and “What the Wall Said” — Casey’s vocal delivery conjures memories of Julian Casablancas during the early days of The Strokes.
Other comparable bands that are often mentioned in reviews of Protomartyr include Pere Ubu, The Fall, Wire, Editors and Interpol. But while they clearly sound similar to many of these bands, they’re also distinct enough to stand out on their own with a style that could only have been created here and now.
Originally a duo named Butt Babies, the band eventually morphed into a quartet with a new moniker before releasing its debut, No Passion All Technique, in 2012. The songs here are definitely more raw than the newer offerings, but there is still enough nuance and craftsmanship to hint at the potential of the band.
The album opens with several pure punk tracks before eventually making its way to “Three Swallows”, a slower tune focused on drinking. But fear not, the rest of the disc is filled with Casey’s old-school, sing-songy punk sneering.
Protomartyr are currently on the West Coast and will make their way across the country this summer.