Not content with pouring their bleak urgency all over the trials and tribulations of modern existence with 2017 LP Gestalt, Negative Space return with a seven-song slab of brutalist post-punk – and it’s another triumph. Seething with fury, it almost (but not quite) masks its venomously-spat lyrical content behind angular basslines that Steve Hanley would’ve been proud to call his own and guitar chords thet teeter and totter between the blunt force of Black Flag and the dissonant crunch of Gang of Four. This is no easy ride; it’s music that wraps itself up in peril before clawing its way out and stomping on whatever’s left.
With song titles like Theft Utopia and Performative, you know what you’re getting – a pointed railing against those who hide behind hypocrisy and illusion, while the monochrome glare of the music makes it clear that none of this is to be fucked with. At times it even sounds like we’ve been caught up in the textured smoosh of Sonic Youth’s Washing Machine, with guitars exploding into senses-crushing fog even as the mechanical clank of the rhythm section continues its relentless, insistent pounding. Sometimes, of course, they just give way to waves of intense hardcore riffery that’s part frustration, part release – but all of it sounds like everyday life, condensed into one thrilling piece of rock music that’s way too smart for its own good. More like this, please.