Protomartyr
Formal Growth in the Desert


4.1
excellent

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
June 2nd, 2023 | 136 replies


Release Date: 06/02/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The tap calls the time.

Losing your parents is one of the hardest things to face in life. How well you manage to deal with such a tragic yet inevitable event and the emotional consequences is quite a daunting task. Same goes for finding a way to keep depression at bay, in order to recalibrate yourself sooner than later. In the end, everything should be reduced to remembering the beautiful memories, not the loss itself. This was in a nutshell Joe Casey’s healing process after his mother passed, therefore putting all these sentiments into Protomartyr’s latest collection of songs that make up Formal Growth in the Desert. For the cynical in him, this meant venturing outside his comfort zone to find the much-needed peace of mind and love again. This way, several tracks share steps of this journey while necessarily portraying the hardships faced throughout. Casey’s down to earth approach makes it seem easier and more logical than it is, really. Despite bearing a heavy, personal load, the LP doesn’t weigh much on you on a casual listen.

Musically, Formal Growth in the Desert is considerably more immediate than its predecessor, Ultimate Success Today. There is a fine blend of post-punk and goth-Americana, as the band recorded in Texas and included lap steel guitar too. It is not a lead instrument in the mix though, being used mainly for added background textures. Guitar player Greg Ahee diversified his output over the years and here he included multiple western soundtrack-type touches. The twang and reverb are a large part of the charming guitar work. Tracks such as the poignant “Elimination Dances”, the moody “Graft vs. Host” or the explosive “We Know the Rats” jump from sharp, cinematic leads to distorted bursts. The former is one of the highlights, the drum patterns becoming highly mesmerizing, whereas Casey details notions about loss and insignificance in the grand scheme of things. “Graft vs. Host” is perhaps the most touching number, since it directly discusses his mother’s death over a darker, melancholic sonic background. The front man finally pushes his anger away on the noisy “The Author” and accepts fate, so he can move on with life on the closing “Rain Garden”. The latter starts with a punishing rhythm before breaking into a meandering, mid-tempo segment. Ominous layers of echoed synths and lap steels build up around the vocals, unleashing one final release alongside some of the most personal lyrics Joe penned yet.

Alas, not all the record focuses on the departure of loved ones. The other half of it retreats to familiar sounds and subjects of social and political nature. “For Tomorrow” offers the muscle early albums boasted. The driving groove and shouts are classic Protomartyr. Same goes for “3800 Tigers” with its rock and roll swing, the punchy “Fulfillment Center” or the stomping “Polacrilex Kid”. These are nicely interspersed with the introspective cuts, providing improved dynamics overall. Every member audibly leveled up with each LP and Formal Growth in the Desert again takes it up a notch. There are bits of everything the quartet crafted so far and more, all incorporated into a cohesive and intense narrative. As the instrumentals become more evocative, so does the storytelling.



Recent reviews by this author
Causa Sui From The SourceMoby Always Centered At Night
Bat For Lashes The Dream of DelphiStonebride Smiles Revolutionary
tripleS ASSEMBLE24High on Fire Cometh the Storm
user ratings (114)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2023


6212 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Excellent record.



Stream here - http://protomartyr.bandcamp.com/album/formal-growth-in-the-desert

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2023


6023 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just finished my first listen to this, might be my favorite Protomartyr

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2023


6212 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Until now, Under Color of Official Right was my go to album of theirs, but this one might be their best, agreed.

cloakanddagger
June 2nd 2023


741 Comments


Solid as hell band, excited to give this a spin

DDDeftoneDDD
June 2nd 2023


22550 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If this is any bit better than relatives I cut a ball off

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
June 2nd 2023


16660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

been listening to this all day

anarchistfish
June 2nd 2023


30380 Comments


Still haven't listened to their last one properly

MillionDead
June 2nd 2023


5362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wasn't sure how I was receiving when I first heard it. It's definitely growing. I dig how huge the vocals get in Fun in Hi Skool towards the end.

Demon of the Fall
June 2nd 2023


34813 Comments


I remember liking Relatives In Descent, maybe I should explore further. Seeing IDLES / Viagra Boys in the rec by reviewer section makes me wanna wretch tho, so tempering expectations immediately

Ryus
June 2nd 2023


37432 Comments


modern post punk is basically always disappointing for me. heard a few tracks from relatives and was not impressed at all. might check this though

MillionDead
June 2nd 2023


5362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't think they really sound like either. I think it's just the fact that they're all modern post-punk, I'd guess.

MillionDead
June 2nd 2023


5362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

" heard a few tracks from relatives and was not impressed at all."



Not even A Private Understanding? My Children? The Tower? Male Plague?? Half Sister? Too many bangers on that record honestly.

tectactoe
June 2nd 2023


7541 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Rest assured these guys are significantly better than IDLES and Viagra Boys, both of whom I really cannot stand. A closer touchpoint would maybe be Fontaines DC, but I still think Protomartyr are superior and quite a bit different.

anarchistfish
June 2nd 2023


30380 Comments


Pontianak 87 is their best song anyway

https://youtu.be/i20e-BPAdPo

DoofDoof
June 2nd 2023


15435 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

'these guys are significantly better than IDLES and Viagra Boys, both of whom I really cannot stand. A closer touchpoint would maybe be Fontaines DC'



I prefer the best songs by all those bands to the best songs by this band...but this lot are consistent I'll give them that.



I can find all those other bands release songs that are a bit awkward or try hard, but this band can be a bit monotonous/dull from time to time

anarchistfish
June 2nd 2023


30380 Comments


Close enough autocorrect ig

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
June 2nd 2023


16660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think ppl should start with Agent Intellect yea agreed

anarchistfish
June 2nd 2023


30380 Comments


Easiest to get into probably

Relatives is best overall though

MillionDead
June 2nd 2023


5362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agent is full of great tracks as well. There's worthwhile material on all of their albums though. Revisiting No Passion All Technique and Under Color of Official Right made me realize how underrated those albums were to me. I love their consistency. The way they put together songs is the epitome of maturity and measure.

PotsyTater
June 2nd 2023


10100 Comments


Band constantly has insanely great album art.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy