Review Summary: The iconic math rock band's debut album holds up well, despite having little in common with the sound they were later known for.
If you've delved into the math rock world like I have, it's likely Don Caballero is a name you've at the very least heard of. They're often cited as the kings of the genre, but primarily for the light, complex insanity of their later albums. In actual fact, this album is relatively unknown in their discography. To that, however, I can say fair enough. There's nothing particularly special about this record, it's an instrumental post-punk / noise rock album with some experimentation here and there. Outside of that, it's pretty standard. This is especially so when you compare it to everything they released afterwards. It's also the shortest album they've released out of all 6 in their discography, holding a somewhat short playtime of 37 minutes.
Don't let that put you off, however. For Respect has its fair share of undeniably catchy riffs and a fast-paced energy surrounding it that make the album so irresistibly enjoyable, which majorly contrasts with their future releases (which are much more progressive in nature). On For Respect, songs rarely exceed 2 minutes in length. On the other hand, It's rare for a track to be under 5 minutes on any of their other albums. Despite this, For Respect isn't just non-stop intensity either. The band knows when to put on the brakes and steady the flow of the album, and showcases this ability skillfully on tracks such as New Laws and Subdued Confections. Although these tracks are few in numbers, they are well placed throughout the album and prevents the album from ultimately tiring you out and leaving you drained.
Another great thing about this album is it's accessibility. When I first attempted to get into Don Caballero a year and a half ago now, I tried starting with their most critically acclaimed albums What Burns Never Returns and American Don. What I later realized, however, is that both of those are definitely not suited for the casual listener. Fast forward 8 months later, and I stumbled across this album again, and upon listening was very impressed and enjoyed the album very much. Fast forward another month, and I was heavily into the rest of their discography. Even though you could say this album is underwhelming compared to the 3 albums that followed, without it I have no idea how anybody could get into the band. My main point is that it serves a greater purpose in their discography through it by giving listeners a gateway into the rest of their discography. It has many elements found in their next album, Don Caballero 2, and if you can get into that it's easy to get into the rest of it.
Overall, Don Caballero's debut album, while not particularly ground-breaking, is a fun instrumental rock record reminiscent of post-punk from the time. It also gives the audience a chance to digest certain elements of their next, much more complicated album where it's much harder to truly take in the guitar work and intricate drum playing at first because of its complexity. Although the more artistic and progressive side of the band is nice to see, this side of the band is also great to see.