by Niccolo Dante Porcello (@chromechompsky)
Gay Sin’s new record is a zeitgeisty and immensely catchy record that enunciates a deft ability to combine hooks with substance. Gay Sin clocks in at 13 minutes spread over 6 fantastic songs; every one a momentary blip that somehow maintains a distinct and utterly enjoyable character.
These songs are as good of catharsis-rock as it comes, easily joining contemporaries Jawbreaker Reunion and S P O R T S as the most distinctive and skilled groups at defying both genre conventions and expectations. The second to last song on Gay Sin, “Metal Girl”, exemplifies this best; waves of guitar and Larz Brogan’s pounding drum line surround and abet the stunning vocals of Violet Neff as they sing: “I am a pocketknife/ I am a multi-tool/ I will do my very best/ And I will try and fix you/ I am a strong device/ I am a metal girl”. A cascade of sound that is somehow both articulate and unforgiving surrounds this refrain; likewise on album opener “I Don’t Know”, Neff’s vocals are perfectly situated on top of the frenetic instrumentation that makes Gay Sin feel so alive. Indeed vitality is linchpin by which Gay Sin holds substance, every song on the record (even the silly, but superbly fun “Anthem”) is lyrically and sonically a tale of being alive and celebrating the waves of disaster that life necessarily entails. Never does Gay Sin ask for sympathy, rather (and this is where ‘catharsis’ comes in) they parlay the dissonance of daily existence and navigating relationships into incredibly catchy and substantive compositions.
“Blizzard of ‘78” opens with a memorable gasp from Neff: “fuck off/ if you think I owe you anything”, and continues in a congruent manner, detailing a harrowing encounter with a harasser. On the flip side of “Blizzard of ‘78” is the next track “You Don’t Know”, which follows the opposite path, a place where a person’s safety/desire/feelings are respected and yet those feelings become challenging to annunciate. The two songs pair well together, serving as an emotional juxtaposition that feels intimately familiar. Across these two songs, the band keeps a consistently speedy wail – the guitars, bass, and drums all alternating hook-y arrangements and keeping Gay Sin firmly engaging.
Like many releases that feature distinctive, but short songs, Gay Sin lends itself to the loop function, with each passing of the raucous closer “Anthem” following right back into the lilting early chords of “I Don’t Know”. It is an album equally suited for moving as sitting, for listening alone and listening to with people, and for sweating or enjoying the rare moments of air conditioning in the hot hot summer.