Amplifying all the premises that were already evident in their first two albums, ‘Endure’, released at the end of last year by the mythical Rough Trade, has taken this band of New Orleans agitators to a new symbolic stage of exposure. Not that there’s any kind of Agitprop manifesto or hierarchical division between performer and listener. For this quartet, it is in the brilliant communion of sweat and glitter of the mosh pit and dance that space is called for, in an act of collective catharsis that is as much celebratory and libidinal as it is contestatory and desperate, woven into the words of the incendiary Alli Logout. Projecting a new world from the inevitable ashes of the one in which we now survive, Logout’s lyrics start from this lived anguish to glimpse a possible future fueled by a conflagration of punk, disco, funk and glam pop. A fusion that makes perfect sense for a band that had Erykah Badu, David Bowie, Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails as entry points into music for each of its members, as they said in an interview with NPR.
With Maria Helena’s guitars, Nathan Cassiani’s bass and Ruth Mascelli’s synthesizers and rhythm box conjuring the soundtrack to Logout’s radiant presence, Special Interest limn the more abrasive no wave leanings of the past into music that is instantly more memorable, but just as intense. After all, it’s better for words to echo in the moment than struggle to make themselves heard. Pop can (and should) also be urgent. The onslaught of punk chords and noisy swerves opens up to the swing of Mascelli’s martial and/or danceable rhythms and Cassiani’s liquid bass lines, pulsating with a vital energy that demolishes any punk-funk revivals we may have had. So there’s no mistaking it. From the liberating disco of ‘(Herman’s) House’ – a tribute to Herman Wallace, one of the three revolutionaries who was in solitary confinement for 41 years in the Louisiana penitentiary – to the pounding beat of the epic closing with ‘LA Blues’, via the lascivious funk of ‘Midnight Legend’ with Mykki Blanco and the almost industrial density of ‘My Displeasure’, we have here a possible survival manual for today. And tomorrow. BS