Release Date: Feb 17, 2017
Record label: SideOneDummy
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
There's a great line in Conor Oberst's 'Next of Kin' that runs "I spread my anger like Agent Orange / I was indiscriminate". Oberst dwells on the final word, emphasising each syllable between clenched teeth, as if the realisation of his actions is only beginning to set in. Meat Wave's latest LP, The Incessant, is its sibling in denial, conceived by rage and ineptitude in the vain hope of catharsis.
C hicago trio Meat Wave were already purveyors of bracing, pulse-racing feral noise, but for their third album, they've also channelled the intensity of The Rat by the Walkmen - all lasering barks, mercuried distortion and taut guitars that squeeze your emotive grapes. Engineered by Steve Albini, The Incessant is the name that frontman Chris Sutter gave to the all-encompassing anxiety he experienced after the breakup of the relationship he had been in since he was 12 (one song, Tomosaki, is also an ode to the cat he lost in the split). That frustration is palpable throughout: songs like Bad Man, Glass Teeth and Leopard Print Jet Ski are despairing ribcage rippers, inspired by as much by Drive Like Jehu as they are as queen of torturous feelings, Fiona Apple.
Intense Chicago post-punks Meat Wave make a desperate racket on The Incessant, their third LP and second release for Side One Dummy. A deeply cathartic set written in the wake of frontman Chris Sutter's breakup from his partner of 12 years, The Incessant plays true to its name, pairing meaty, Motorik riffs with a crushing rhythmic attack. Career home recordists, Meat Wave chose this time out to work with Chicago production legend Steve Albini, who's a perfect fit for their organic approach and the immediacy of the material.
Meat Wave used to write about other people's failings. The Chicago punk outfit's previous releases doled out judgements on society and the state of the world, but on 'The Incessant', frontman Chris Sutter has turned his focus inwards. It's a brutally honest record, the product of a catastrophic breakup and a near mental breakdown, a sonic representation of the all-pervading sense of anxiety Chris felt after the end of a twelve-year relationship.
Meat Wave's Delusion Moon felt like the first step into a dark corridor. Emotive, thrusting and painting a good picture of where the band could take their brand of punk, a smart blend of psych/indie/progressive. The Incessant, in every way possible, from the musical drive to the exposed lyrics, feels like a direct sequel to it and strong continuation of the wave of emotions started in 2015.
Chicago punks Meat Wave have always operated with a wry aura of irony around them. They embody the new age of post-hardcore while maintaining a Good Boy™ aesthetic. These are the kind of punks that you'd happily bring home to meet your parents but have the 'tude and tunes to warrant a collaboration with Steve Albini. 'The Incessant', however, doesn't capitalise on the raucous fun of Meat Wave's previous albums; instead it dwells on insecurity and prioritises gutsy sentiments over original songwriting.