Album: Retail - Dead


Category: Punk


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Reviewed by: Harris Escalante

When you listen to a song from Brooklyn’s Retail it’ll be easy to figure out the inspiration for the band’s name. I mean, what else can incite such unadulterated rage, what else can fuel so much noise and energy—filled with anger and aggression–than that of a retail job?

What started out as an avenue to express the frustrations caused by working a shitty job has propelled frontman Austin Jackson to prominence in the NYC punk scene. Seven years later, their second release Dead still proves the energy burning within.

This is a rapid-fire punk album, with tracks that don’t go beyond the two minute mark. It has the raw garage punk sound that will transport you in the middle of a mosh pit in a sweaty nightclub. Ten minutes might be short in real time, but these propulsive bangers can leave you gasping for breath when it’s done.

Retail takes a slight departure from their previous release. 2013’s I Hate Me has melodic hooks and anthemic moments. Although still in the range of garage rock, songs were more singable and infectious. Not so much here.

It feels like Dead has been fueled by an abundance of high-octane jet fuel. A concentrated formula that gives them maximum overdrive with the drawback of cutting their fuse short. The band leans more into hardcore and rhythmic movements with scrappy yet creative noise profiles. The DIY production gives it a vibrant live recording atmosphere that will take you in the middle of the action. For maximum enjoyment, banging your head is highly recommended.

The LP starts with the scrappy title track, filled with harsh textures and swirling guitar effects that captures the feeling of disorientation when dancing elbow to elbow in a mosh pit. “Scrum” sounds like a scrappy train engine trying to keep itself together while the band pounds the controls to keep it running. “Piss Ant” and “Live Fast” speeds everything up to eleven, while adding in rocket fueled noise riffs for good measure. The main riff for “Thrust” is dark and menacing, like traversing through an empty warehouse with the smell of burnt meat and gasoline permeating the scene. “No” takes on a pounding post-punk character, with a dystopian/militaristic rhythms slathered with screeching guitars and throat-crunching vocals.

Live shows are in limited supply right now, and dancing shoulder to shoulders might not be the best idea. Retail’s Dead might be the next best thing. Fun and catharsis in one tight package. 

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