The Agent Intellect
Year of Release: 2015
Self-effacing post-punk being what it is these days, with plenty of underground rock outfits channeling British-sounding racket in the vein of Joy Division and The Fall, it's a miracle that Detroit's Protomartyr have managed to carve out a singular niche for themselves. While last year's stellar Under the Color of Official Right came on like a 70s/early 80s concession to those aforementioned bands, The Agent Intellect gives the jangly grime a cleaner production sheen while still retaining the group's consistent songwriting chops. Frontman Joey Casey continues to impress; delivering his now typical low register drawl with bouts of shouting and slurred spoken word-style muttering in the Mark E. Smith mold. Drug abuse, religious iconography, the death of a father; these are Casey's lyrical concerns, but despite the overall bleak subject matter, there's a sense of passion here that never comes across as self-indulgent. Meanwhile, drummer Alex Leonard and guitarist/bassist Greg Ahee and Scott Davidson all make their presences felt, giving the entire record a hard-edged propulsive energy that rarely, if ever, lags.