It's not at all a stretch to say that this was my most anticipated album of the year.
In case you haven't been paying attention, I unabashedly adore this band. But I was a little worried about Self-Preservation. See, they grow and change so much between each album, that I usually hate the latest album, even as I've come to adore the previous one. (I hardly ever listen to III anymore, even though it's the one that got me into the band in the first place.) When I heard the first few singles on Ninebullets Radio, I had very mixed feelings.
I'm happy to say that was not the case this time. I was in love during the first listen.
The album takes on a lot of Big and Intriguing topics, so much so that if you care to read a critical analysis of TCG, I'll be writing it when I can gather my thoughts a little better. Micah is scary smart when it comes to layering the musical and lyrical themes in his songs, and it's about time that someone took a crack at unpacking it.
Over at Ninebullets, romeosidvicious questioned whether or not Self Preservation was a concept album. I'd say it is and it isn't. Over the course of time, their albums have tackled specific topics in a very deliberate way. III and Speaking in Cursive were about youth and the associated bullshit, and every single song in Sweet Saint Me was about religion (even "Angeline" had some significant Christ imagery.) In case the title didn't tip you off, The Death of the Self Preservation Society takes on politics. As such, the album is pretty straightforward punk, stylistically speaking.
Our heroes continue to do new and interesting things musically. Both Micah and Shane have changed the way they pitch their voices. Micah has (finally) stopped straining his upper registers. He sounds more like a grown man, which is certainly in keeping with his songs about growing up. But now Shane is singing higher. I'm not sure it works for him as well. And Murph contributes to the bridge on "Stars & Gutters." (Side note: I think the song would sound really great with Austin Lucas singing that part.) "Mantle in '56" and "Lost On Youth" veer off into surf pop -- a new direction that ends up working out great.
Blah blah blah this is the best thing I've ever listened to blah.
Here's the thing: my attachment to this band comes from the genuine catharsis I get out of listening to these albums and it would be foolish to talk about the album without talking about that. I blasted Sweet Saint Me every goddamn day of June in the copy room at school and did not give a single fuck if anybody minded. It's about staying true to yourself, no matter what the people around you say. It was full of piss and bile and defiance, and I needed that to preserve any kind of self-concept of who I was as a person and teacher that month.
Death of the Self-Preservation society is my pump-up album before I go out at night, or on dates. I'll probably have to start pumping it before work soon. I know every douchebag in Long Island has their pump-up playlist. But this isn't about pretending I'm Party God. This is not party music.
This is about self-preservation in a culture that perpetuates itself with a cycle of inadequacy, shame, and retail therapy. And the way to do that is to celebrate yourself. To celebrate that you're alive. It's the one thing they can't take from you.
Stars & Gutters
Lost on Youth
Annie, Get Your Guns
Two Cow Garage -- Facebook, Preorder on vinyl and CD from Last Chance Records (Released on 9/10)