Suicide Squeeze Records
The Devil You Know
Over the years, The Coathangers have established themselves as a fast and to the point rock band that skips subtlety for something impactful. Here however, The Coathangers not only play with the dynamics of their own voices but with what we expect from them as a band. While it would be nice to see them commit to this new direction fully, their fallback onto strict punk is pure fun even without the new sonic charms.
Though their raw writing has always been a standout, there’s something refreshing to hearing The Coathangers explore the brighter ends of their production this time around. Not only does this trick make you appreciate how sharp their riffs are, but on a track like “Bimbo” every shift to distortion feels extra punchy. Several albums in however, The Coathangers see they can’t just make a simple and aggressive rock record anymore. Even a raging stomper track like “Hey Buddy” or “5 Farms” is filled with weird percussive elements and unusual shifts in their playing as a whole just to keep things fresh.
There are a couple more jam-heavy tracks to appease older fans, and a few straightforward riff-driven tracks. The Coathangers really adapt these formats well here however, and give you some outlandish sonics and delivery in tracks like “Step Back.” While so much of the record also stays under three minutes, this also means half the tracks don’t get to go into some of their weirder side roads. Regardless, The Coathangers are really using their dual lead-vocals with more vigor than ever before to create a kind of tension in “Stranger Danger” (among others) that plays into the instrumentation as well.
It’s almost a shame they can’t quite say as much in the composition as they do lyrically on “F The NRA” however, but that doesn’t really diminish the message. Despite the blunt nature of its title and chorus shouts however, there’s actually a lot of really sharp and heartbreaking writing in the verses to make it all count. Though they face similar predictable moments in their shredding elsewhere on the record, The Coathangers never fail to offer a great rhythmical showcase. Drifting between tracks like “Memories” and “Last Call” not only does the drumming create surreal moods, but it explores new ground for the band as a whole. Though they redefine familiar tones around themselves in the closing moments of this album, it’s often the weird sound effects and playful moments of something like “Lithium” that keep you the most engaged.
Words by Owen Maxwell