Listening to ‘We Are Going Anywhere Man’, the third track from this New York-via-Gold Coast punk group, you can’t help but imagine a live SMS ticker box in the corner of a focus-grouped MTV clip, so crystalline is the production, so immediate is its confection. At a time when guilty pleasures are barely that any more; when several layers of irony have been levelled in our collective consciousness to accommodate something as theoretically naff as an ?80s MOR revival, it’s refreshing to hear a group so frenetically modern and so embracing of beastly dynamic compression, flared nostril arrogance and blunt axe power chords. All in the service of an album that, for better or for worse, couldn’t have sounded quite like this in the 20th century. The Death Set is defiantly post-taste: there’s as much Good Charlotte and Blink 182 here as there is the Beastie Boys and the Locust.
In the wake of founding member Beau Velasco’s [passing in 2009](/news/3761253),The Death Set could very well have ?gone soft?, but this three-piece have a vision and, with only a couple of exceptions, they’re not letting life get in the way. There are some uncomfortable moments riddled throughout: snippets of Velasco’s banter during ‘Is That A French Dog?’ prove both amusing and haunting, and the one blatant tribute here (‘I Miss You Beau Velasco’) lends this record a thoroughly unlikely reflective tenor that’s at odds with the bash-your-skull-against-the-wall bluster of ‘Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap’, to name one example.
Even their ?slower? songs – where there’s an attempt to sing in that ubiquitously nasal, heavily American-accented pop-punk drawl – sound tailored for ritalin-ed adolescent skanking; an awkward anti-poise brewed with every ingredient in the angst-pop storeroom. ‘It’s Another Day’ is pure Channel [V] pop-punk: affirmative four-chord choruses and explanatory first-person verses that sound as lacquered as a combover. Michel Poiccard sounds like a sincere embrace of the glistening and compromised extremes of modern punk music: the vague self-critique, the surplus testosterone, the spit-and-polish stylisation, packaged for optimum FM performance and crossover appeal.
Even if you choose to ignore the album’s autobiographical context, there’s a pubescent anxiety rooted deep in this formula’s aesthetic that strikes a chord. Wedged between the flat-out bangers is the type of choose-your-own-adventure lyricism that fits this well-oiled aesthetic like a glove, so that even if you don’t kinda enjoy this (I challenge you not to) you can understand why someone else, probably a lot younger than you, would.