Review Summary: blossoming
It’s difficult to say who is meant to hear Street Sects’ newest effort. It’s not really prescribable. The title is a bit deceptive, as the album doesn’t exactly provide a clear ultimatum (though, allegedly it’s a nod to a Bonnie “Prince” Billy track, so take that as you may). There’s no single tipping point; End Position
works like a jumbled mess of jittery pistons and blown gaskets. The Texas-based duo of Leo Ashline and Shaun Ringsmuth have an uninviting, urbanized aura, as though their psychosis has festered under the lights of XXX signs, roaring city ambience, and abstract, rathole alleyways. Despite the sounds being influenced by the city hustle and bustle, End Position
dances not with a sense of communion, but selfish, bloodied fervour. Street Sects combine dirty synths with traces of noisecore and industrial piss, underscored with thoughts of suicide and misanthropy. Lines like “each time you reach out / I find it strange / seems like a waste of goodwill
” (from album highlight “In Defense of Resentment”) carry a pathetic, dismissive sting. End Position
comes from the gutter. Conceptually, it aims even lower. Questionably-mercy-killing-your-wife-and-child low.
A balance of catchiness, chaos, and hatefulness is a tricky one to maintain without sounding tongue-in-cheek, and Street Sects mostly accomplish this, all while tapping into an interesting sonic formula. Single “And I Grew Into Ribbons” uses rapid machine drumming, samples of city noises, and envisions a slummy state of emergency. It’s not hard to pick up on their past lives in various deep-city hardcore punk outfits. Follow-up “Copper In the Slots” tumbles into a dance-punk frenzy that could be the soundtrack to a sadistic 90s video game boss, jostling you helplessly. “In Defense of Resentment” has groovy, addictive sub-bass, bounding off of the prior track's energy perfectly. If End Position
maintained this dynamic consistently, it would be infinitely repayable. Underwhelmingly, the chaos levels out a bit in the album’s midsection. By the time we hit “Victims of Nostalgia”, the ghoulish demeanour starts thinning out, stepping into hokey territory. Some of the samples - traffic noises, breaking glass, screams - border on gimmicky. Still, it works
more often than not, as the album is fundamentally doused in feelings of cheapness. Shaun Ringsmuth’s production is clever in how it manages to be so meticulously calibrated, yet sound smudgy and thrown-together, complementing the album’s dumpster-drowning visage.
is very corporeal in that, despite the underlying themes and consternation, it doesn’t really spend much time thinking about anything for too long, regardless of the overhanging dread. Or, maybe it does, but chooses the destructive route by force of habit. It takes violent action, spewing and thrashing, then pops smoke before leaving you much to grasp. It’s a weird counterpoint to its own motifs - the essence of self-destruction, really. One almost wishes the album’s delirium took a long, fascinating conceptual trip into Ashline’s psyche in order to deconstruct things a bit. Instead, we get brief flashes of introspective bile. Ultimately, your appreciation for End Position
will depend on how you digest Ashline’s conveyed obsessive attitude, which doesn’t really develop or devolve over the album’s course, despite the jagged detours. It’s fitting; Ashline is allegedly on the upside from a thirteen-year addiction, of which he despises nearly every wasted moment and cyclical failure. We can only speculate whether or not the music is indicative of the struggle, but End Position
is a good synopsis of something. Odds are, the less it means to you, the better.