Special Interest - Endure Music Album Reviews

Special Interest - Endure Music Album Reviews
On their remarkable third album, the New Orleans band pushes their sound to both its bleakest and its sweetest brinks. Pop, disco, and house all melt into their raucous, revolutionary glam punk.

In a big enough mosh pit, the world jostles loose. You enter the pit as one person, and you leave as someone else. The late queer theorist José Esteban Muñoz described this transformation as a portal in his 2009 book Cruising Utopia. “I remember the sexually ambiguous punk clubs of my youth where horny drunk punk boys rehearsed their identities, aggressively dancing with one another and later lurching out, intoxicated, to the parking lot together,” he wrote. “For many of them, the mosh pit was not simply a closet; it was a utopian subcultural rehearsal space.” In the squall of the music, reality starts to split and curl. Through communal, friendly violence, punks build muscle memory of what it’s like to feel unhinged and cared for at the same time. The thrash of bodies clears a channel, however fleeting, into a more survivable life.

Special Interest drill down into that same molten core. Across three ferocious albums, the New Orleans band traces the line where the thirst for a new world meets the rage that torches the old one. Lit up and led by searingly charismatic singer Alli Logout, they call out the stakes of the era as they see them, excoriating gentrifiers, cops, warmongers, and trust-fund art-school kids with keenly tuned sneers. Songs about bracing for revolution brush up against songs about great sex on great drugs. Running on the tireless engine of Ruth Mascelli’s clattering drum machine, they follow in a legacy of queer perturbations from the ’80s and ’90s that include Coil, Frankie Knuckles, and the B-52’s—all of whom, in their own way, worked with the same mix of political dissatisfaction, biting humor, and erotic fantasy. On their third album, Endure, Special Interest push their sound to both its bleakest and its sweetest brinks. Pop, disco, and house all melt into their reliably raucous glam punk, and questions of communal caretaking press against a grief-riddled apocalyptic outlook. This time around, their thorns drip with honey.

Across Endure, Special Interest embellish the cornerstones they established on 2018’s Spiralling and 2020’s The Passion Of with gestures that wouldn’t sound out of place on ’90s radio. The after-dark sounds of house and techno started spilling onto commercial daytime airwaves toward the end of the last millennium, many of them drifting onto the Top 40 from overseas in the pan-flash genre called Eurodance. Logout stretches into certain vocal timbres and minor-key intervals that echo the perfect, ephemeral dance pop of a group like La Bouche, while behind their voice, delicate piano lines fringe the band’s hard-driving foundation. These shifts clear more air around Special Interest’s sound. While certain moments still feel immediate and unignorable, others seem to waft out from a club’s open back door, beckoning passersby to come take a closer look.

The album’s most compelling songs use both strategies in tandem. They invite you to wander in of your own accord, then enclose you inside a fever pitch. On the rollicking dance track “(Herman’s) House,” Special Interest forge an incandescent call to anger out of a surging hook. The song shares its name with a 2012 documentary about the imaginative collaboration between artist Jackie Sumell and activist Herman Wallace, a member of the Black Panther Party who spent 41 years in solitary confinement after serving a life sentence for a murder he denied committing. From his tiny cell, Wallace described his dream house to Sumell, who rendered it via computer graphics and as a tabletop model. In 2013, Wallace finally stepped out of prison, then died of cancer three days later. Sumell made plans to build the house he described to her as a youth community center in New Orleans, but property developers bought the proposed land out from under her.

The story ends bitterly, but Special Interest find solace in the idea of projecting utopia out from hell. “Build it out like Herman’s house,” Logout screams at the chorus over Nathan Cassiani’s jaw-clenched bassline. “We’ll all be Basquiats for five minutes or Hermans for life/So when I say build I mean dream, because that’s all we got promised,” they command in a spoken-word breakdown just before the final refrain. In a recent Quietus interview, Logout illuminated the juxtaposition between the Black queer artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and Wallace: “It’s two different sides of what being Black in America is. You’re either fully idolized and destroyed, or you’re thrown in a cage.”

Special Interest began writing Endure in the middle of 2020, in the wake of uprisings against police killings that stirred cities around the world. Across the insistent drumbeat spikes of “Concerning Peace,” the band bemoans the whittling down of those revolutionary impulses into a neoliberal mold of nonviolent personal enrichment: “Liberal erasure of militant uprising is a tool of corporate interest and a failure of imagination,” goes a call-out line reminiscent of the interjections on System of a Down’s “Prison Song.” Over Maria Elena’s frothing, sidelong guitar chords, the band’s voices come together for the chant-along chorus, where they collectively quote the Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael: “We are not concerned with peace/Peace is not of our concern.” Power disguises its own violence as the natural order of things; to call for violence in retaliation clarifies the terms of a smiling oppressor. “No one will ever rest in peace/When their value is less than property,” Logout seethes, pillorying commentators who expressed more concern over broken store windows than the lives of Black people killed by police.

Endure howls against a capitalist regime that feeds on the neglect and death of sidelined and exploited human beings, both in the U.S. and globally. This system is fragmented enough to work in the shadows; long threads connect military activity in the Middle East and the gas that seeps out of the pump at the 7-Eleven, but they’re obscured enough that whoever’s gripping the handle won’t typically feel them. On “Kurdish Radio,” Special Interest draw an explicit line between oil lurking under the sands of contested territory and the lives lived in American cities. “Is love like Arab oil?/Do we take take take till it’s depleted?” Logout sings. Later in the song, they overlay crude oil with blood staining the streets of New Orleans, as if to suggest that connecting local struggle to a global network makes for a start. At the climax of “Concerning Peace,” Logout calls out the names of metropolises across the world, tethering them together as sites of both historic disinvestment and revolutionary potential.

Amid calls to destroy every kind of cage, Special Interest stay attuned to what might sprout from the ashes. The music video for “Midnight Legend,” a sweetly melodic dance track whose single version features a verse from Mykki Blanco, follows a group of clubgoers through a messy night out. They flip off a handsy bouncer, ingest a few too many drugs, argue with exasperated bartenders, and get kicked out of the bathroom in the middle of a gay threesome. This club houses little of the utopia the dancefloor can sometimes tease; all night, it plays host to low-grade, aggravating conflict. Then the dancers spill out into the morning light. As passersby hustle their way to work, three of the clubgoers sync up for an impromptu dance routine. The people who have just woken up scowl at those who have been up all night. But the dancers look at each other and beam. Their movements reassure each other that they have each other’s backs even if no one else does. Under the new sun, they practice another world inside the cracks of this one.

The album rolls to a close with the slow-burning “LA Blues,” a song that sheds its skin multiple times over the course of its eight minutes. It starts with a handful of neighborhood scenes and a repeated falsetto taunt: “If you don’t like it you can fuck right off/Them boys in blue don’t come around on this block.” In the third verse, Logout’s gaze turns inward. They ruminate on the end of a relationship, approaching a state of tenderness but quickly diverting it with a sarcastic “boo hoo,” then looping back to the bitterly laughing chorus. But as the song rolls on, as the one-two step of the drumbeat and the guitar’s sour roar refuse to slow or pause, Logout dives deeper. The song boils into a dirge; Logout interrogates God in the wake of an immeasurable loss, their voice strained and cracking. As they hold their grief in its fullness, the song changes again, turning anthem-like, and Logout parts the curtains on a formerly hidden outlook. “The end of the world is just a destination/I had to grow to love/Yes and now I know I’m not unworthy of love,” they conclude, their voice warm and open, defenses scattered on the ground. If this world is barrelling toward a cliff, if there’s an unavoidable terminus square in our path, maybe we should try to love like we did at the beginning.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Special Interest - Endure Music Album Reviews Special Interest - Endure Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 11, 2022 Rating: 5


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