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Drug Church - Hygiene Music Album Reviews

Drug Church - Hygiene Music Album Reviews
The latest album from the chameleonic hardcore band is filled with pithy one-liners and gigantic hooks. Mired in anxiety, this music builds intimacy from commiseration.

Flipping through the lyrics of Hygiene can feel like reading a book of Oscar Wilde epigrams if Oscar Wilde had been barely scraping by as a punk musician. Every song on chameleonic hardcore band Drug Church’s fourth album offers at least one pithy phrase to sum up the often cynical worldview of frontman Patrick Kindlon. “There’s so few reasons to prostrate yourself at the feet of all these fools,” he sings on album opener and de facto mission statement, “Fun’s Over.” If you’re looking for a mantra to break out of the endless doomscrolling cycle, try shouting along to this one from “Million Miles of Fun”: “News flash/I need news less.” And when Kindlon reaches the bittersweet climax of “Athlete on Bench,” he shares his most instructive aphorism yet: “I’m living between shrinking margins.”

Those “shrinking margins” have squeezed every musician working in the streaming era. On Hygiene, Drug Church invite us behind the curtain to see how they’re making it work. “I’m in the workforce of music,” Kindlon told Stereogum in January. “To that end, if there’s a material goal on my part, it’s to have a career. And if there’s an artistic goal on my part, it’s to experience the ups and downs of that career with some grace.” The lyrics on Hygiene explore these valleys, offering a self-aware look at a rock band whose livelihoods are shaped by the vagaries of late capitalism. “Fun’s Over” suggests there’s a dumb luck component to the band’s success, while “Detective Lieutenant” spins an extended metaphor to ask whether good art can be separated from a problematic artist: “If I do a double murder, what this song did for you doesn’t change an iota,” may not ring true for every listener, but it does invite some self-examination.

Kindlon’s vocal performance on Hygiene is the most deliberately tuneful he’s ever given, in either Drug Church or his longer-running band, Self Defense Family. He’s always been a capable singer, but he’s now learned that the best way to make a lyric stick is to pair it with a gigantic, undeniable hook. Even when he digs into his grittier register to charge a line with extra urgency, he manages to pull out a deceptively sweet melody, too. He’s evolved in lockstep with the rest of the band. Guitarists Nick Cogan and Cory Galusha bounce between nervy post-hardcore and sunny pop-punk with ease, hitting every way station between the two. Bassist Pat Wynne and drummer Chris Villeneuve are agile enough to keep up, buoying the band through wild tempo shifts and taking center stage when necessary, as on the rhythmically driven pit-starter “World Impact.”

Drug Church’s music has always felt like an extension of their wider community, and nods to peers and influences dot Hygiene’s landscape. Hearing how those reference points interact is still a thrilling part of listening to the band. For each passage that evinces the raw emotional impact of Touché Amoré or the brawny intensity of Sick of It All, there’s one that recalls the punk-poet erudition of the Hold Steady. A line in “Tiresome” references an album by the cult UK band Leatherface, and it sits comfortably next to riffs that feel inspired by the metal-infused pop-punk of Propagandhi.

Drug Church’s balance of brightness and heaviness also recalls Turnstile, a band whose ascent since the release of 2021’s breakthrough Glow On looks like a tempting blueprint. While the two bands do share an unusual gift for creating deep intimacy between band and audience, they forge that closeness in contrasting ways. Turnstile turn their inborn empathy into a feel-good party that everyone is invited to. Hygiene is mired in modern, adult anxieties—the financial pressures of making a living doing what you love, the tough questions that lead to a coherent political view, the complicated friendships that require reexamination. It’s an intimacy built on commiseration rather than communal joy: Drug Church want you to know that they’re in the muck, too, trying to figure it out.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Drug Church - Hygiene Music Album Reviews Drug Church - Hygiene Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 Rating: 5

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