“A wall is a wall / A wall is just a wall” is the idiom that Rhode Island’s Downtown Boys use to charge the nerves of their upcoming record Cost of Living. Fueled by political fury, they demolish the soundscape barriers that any may have assumed to be placed on them after signing to Sub Pop, bringing as much energy as they can physically handle. Their sound is ironically more expansive under such a recognized label, as if the operators gave them the tools and said simply, “Create fire.” And that’s just what they do on this single, burning through all societal expectations with the hopes that it makes you uncomfortable, makes you realize the times that we’re in. With that being said, you don’t have to be radical-minded or even leftist to enjoy what they’ve brought to the table. They’re not singling you out and declaring that you are responsible for the current state of affairs, instead focusing on an issue and tearing it apart to expose the ridiculousness inside, something that takes great care to pull off and not what you might expect from a punk rock group. Downtown Boys are keeping their sound visceral, fearless, and direct when needed, and we thank them for that.
“A Wall” opens with shoegaze chords that carry across the hypnotic rhythm of the bass, all being drenched in sweat from the energetic drumming. The strange burst of horns offer a brightness to the track that keeps it moving at an easy pace just before you’re met with a series of fuck it’s that are laid in the verse, almost like a chant being rung across 5th Ave in the most aggressive way possible. It’s their boldness that makes them important to listen to, besides being undeniably catchy through the genre-mashing that takes place. They stay true to the essence of punk with a loud and destructive force that cradles the almost post-punk melody, threatening to drop it on its head the whole while.
Cost of Living is due out on 08/11 from Sub Pop Records and is available for pre-order here.