Admittedly, when one says the band is “the worst,” it’s not a compliment, but it’s probably the worst to change that, because the band’s latest album, “Yes Regrets,” is an invigorating and addictive blast of punk rock.
The band – which will perform on August 27 at the Middle East Upstairs for the Mayhem at the Middle East Show – includes guitarist Brooke Binion, guitarist Will Bradford (SeepeopleS) and drummer Craig Sala (Paranoid Social Club, Kurt Baker, Blanside). In addition, there is a star lineup of guest actors, including Dana Colley (Morphine, Vapors of Morphine), Tony Bevilacqua (The Distillers), Nikki Glaspie (Beyoncé’s live band, Nth Power, Maceo Parker), and Nate Edgar (Force N, John Brown’s body). Throw in this album produced by Will Holland (Pixies, Fall Out Boy, The Antlers) at Chillhouse Studios in Boston, and it’s easy to see how the album manages to achieve a high level of music while retaining a raw rock genre. Who feels.
The craftsmanship introduced on this album is evident from the first track, “Blacksheepish”. The song comes out swinging from the first note, announcing its presence in a hailstorm. It’s a screeching cry for a song, one that highlights how tight the core trio of musicians is and sets the stage for what’s to come. “Blacksheepish” is a song that talks about feeling like you’re somewhere where you should belong, and the nuances of that thought disappear naturally in the second song, “Serves You Rotten,” where Binion sings, “I don’t know what role you should play.” / And I don’t know who’s fighting.”
There’s a specific pixelated sludge to the song, but the hook on vocals and heavy-duty bass keep the listener tuned in. When the song gives way to old-fashioned punk rock for “Can’t Stay Away,” it’s clear that despite the hustle and bustle of the album’s journey, there is a mind behind it, and a clear eye as to where to turn, because if one strips away everything else, the listener is left with a feeling From loss, a sense of the disintegration of everything. He especially gives the first part of the album a sense of desperation that colors everything and evokes his sense of urgency. That meaning only heightens with the guitar-playing song “Hurt Forever,” which features Bevilacqua’s guitar freak. Rising into a frenzy, before the flame goes out, Binion doesn’t worry, almost a “but I’d still love to walk home with you” intransitive I feel more wounded and hopeless with each repetition.
The album delves into Jim’s Song, in which Binion sings, “I’ll never find / A better place to hide / And you, you never seem to mind.” There is something haunted by the song, a sense of something now gone, permeating everything. The song leaves a lot hidden in its subtext, but the mutual accusations are clear. Punk rock’s mania split into the following song, “This House Didn’t Build Itself,” uses those sentiments as an ignition. It’s a crematorium funeral song. “Finally cut off from my funeral,” Binion sings, “You’re holding someone else’s hand/ Jaw unscrewed trying to scream/ “I’m still my man”/ But the corpses miss the chance to get the last word.”
At this point, the album’s character had become a ghost, simply not dead yet. The madness of rock ‘n’ roll obscures the sense of dissociation, the fading of character, leaving behind only a shriek that seems to echo through the moments of silence. But when the song Monomania, which features drummer Glaspie, spins, there’s a bit of a color change, and not just because of the song’s thick tempo. Banyon sings, “Well, I don’t like what I’m seeing either / Because I’ve been wasting time on you again.” It’s as if the character is starting to find their voice again, and that’s noticeable. When the album moves on to the incredibly addictive title song, “Yes Regrets,” it’s as if something comes together, and the entire track of the album shifts.
“I have no guts / No sign of wounds,” sings Binion, “Yes it was remorse and psychic chaos/ Torn dresses/ No remorse/ Just a few psychiatric states… Did I fail to say I’m sorry?” The last lyric is a kind of screaming, an act of pain and defiance. The entire song has a basic feel, built on Bradford’s bass and Colley’s baritone saxophone, and the character’s sense of self, regret, and everything begins to take shape. It’s a catchy song on its own, but in the context of the album it’s exciting. The album ends with garage rock “So Far Away Reprise,” which doesn’t repeat any of the songs on the album, before ending with the semi-upbeat “Black Dog Waltz.” The song asks someone to stay, but unlike the previous songs, the character doesn’t seem to sing out of pain and loss, but rather sings something indelibly truer: “But I won’t go softly if you stay with me,” sings Binion, “I just sleep peacefully with you.” at my feet.” Nothing feels over by the end of the album, but rather a state of beauty, a chance to start over. The shadow of the album’s previous losses still haunts the song, but there’s also a sense of hope that saturates the melody, enough to make the listener believe that change is truly possible.