Moody, Standard and Poor
(Sub Pop Records)
Old dudes rock, seriously, they do. It seems like they just know what it’s about so much more than the kids do these days. I mean, kids these days, right!?
But seriously, I think there’s something about the fact that these men-of-a-certain-age just have stronger influences; their formative music years were filled with better bands. Maybe that’s just my rose-colored nostalgia, but it seems to me that guys who came up in the 1970’s and 80’s just know how to rock harder than the younger generations. There was no such thing as mall-punk, emo, and sap-rock, and they actually played hard rock on the radio. Rock ‘n roll meant fun, partying, rebellion, and at times, brutality. It was about attitude and sticking it to the man, because you know what, you were the real man. F the other guys. Don’t cry about it. Change it.
This is how I feel when I listen to Obits’ new record, Moody, Standard, and Poor. It’s their second album after 2009’s I Blame You, and I assume the title is an allusion to the credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s that played a central role in the recent financial crisis, which nearly drove the world’s economies off a cliff and decimated many people’s savings and quality of life. And this album reflects the seething resentment and anger that’s been simmering—and at times boiling over—at the people responsible and the lack of consequences for their actions. Heck, the album opener is called “You Gotta Lose” and it’s a burner: tight, compact power-chord pushes with a three-note solo that drives the message home: “Someone’s gotta lose, and it’s not gonna be me.” It’s just straight rock, discordant and determined. From there, co-frontman and post-hardcore stud, Rick Froberg (Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu), wails “I Want Results,” because he does, and you feel it: the surging baseline and one-stroke chord changes convey intensity in the succinct way that rock is supposed to: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”
If there’s an air of optimism to this record it comes from “Naked To The World,” and the uncommon major-chord structure that adds a much-needed jolt of pep to the record. Additionally, “No Fly List” is a ripping lament on the trivialities of America’s misdirected crusade of information control and skewed perception of itself as the morality police. Not that the album is depressing, it’s just intense and can be a bit of a downer if you’re not in the mood for revolution. But it’s also a fist-pumping, invigorating, middle finger to the doldrums and the inequities of modern-day life.
What I like is its simplicity. It’s a hard rock album made by men that know how to rock. It’s not flashy or excessive; it’s concise and resolute. If you appreciate some atonality, gravelly vocals, and that post-punk/hardcore ethos, you’ll like this album.