Pretty much every Protomartyr song features death. In the past few years, frontman Joe Casey has dealt with the death of his father and the onset of Alzheimer’s in his mother, and he and the band have turned that loss into muscular post-punk with a blackly mordant wit, alternately brooding and seething under ringing guitars. On “Why Does It Shake?,” the first single from their forthcoming album The Agent Intellect, Casey stuck his head in the sand, declaring “I’ll be the first to never die.” New song “Dope Cloud” moves in the opposite direction, built on a needling guitar riff that smears itself into deflated chords as Casey insists, “That’s not gonna save ya, man / That’s not gonna save ya, man.” Nothing can stop our minds and bodies from wasting away — “You’re only rented space,” he says. And it’s not just death that he’s talking about: the universe is a cold, unfeeling place, and unfair stuff happens all the time, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That sounds bleak, and it is, but the song never gets bogged down by self-pity, almost deriving a wry comfort from that very futility. Listen.
The Agent Intellect is out 10/9 via Hardly Art.