There was a time in the not too distant past when all the bands coming out of Canada seemed to have thirteen full-time members who were all hell-bent on making Phil Spector cower behind his wall of sound. It was good while it lasted, but lately it seems that the pendulum is swinging back in the opposite direction. Something terse, minimalistic, and muscular, seems to be rearing its crusty head from the darkened basements of this great country. Bolstered by the success of bands like Metz and Fucked Up, there’s a new generation of hardcore bands coming to the fore in Canada. Now, with the release of Older Fatter Drunker (out Sept. 2nd via New Damage Records), Vancouver’s Youth Decay are poised to swan dive into the fray.
The band is a comprised of members of Comeback Kid, Living With Lions, Daggermouth, The Grave Life and Carpenter, and you can hear the weight of their collective experience being brought to bear on their four-song 7” debut. The band kicks things off with “Little Winnipeg”, Stu Ross and Ben Gibbs on providing the opening twin-guitar salvo. It quickly becomes apparent this is no knuckle-dragging three-chord workout punk band. Stu McKillop manages to keep his vocals ragged and dirty without sacrificing his inherent sense of melody. The lead guitar lines are clean and intricate, and they interact beautifully with the airtight rhythm section.
Older Fatter Drunker keeps gaining momentum with “Stench of Regret”, a tightly-coiled whiplash of a song that unleashes its fury and is done before you know it. Repeated listens reveal shades of Husker Du in the jagged time changes, while the middle section features chugging guitars and a Ramones-stylegroup chant.
The high point of the 7” is “Psycho Cyclists”, a breathless, thrashy song in the vein of Bad Brains at their most frenetic. Brimming with bile, the song is punk rock at its most snarling and ornery. It’s stripped down, bare-bones, and immediate. It’s a song that begs to be played live to a belligerent audience. The band launches into a tirade about the inconsiderate cyclists of their city, the vicious guitars and furious jackhammer drums taking no prisoners.
It was once the case that punk rock was about three chords and the truth, a reaction against the bloated excesses of rock dinosaurs. It was a reactionary music, deconstructionist in essence, with an emphasis on the energy and attitude rather than technical proficiency. Bands like Fucked Up, and now Youth Decay on Older Fatter Drunker however are developing a new template for punk that retains the aggression, attack, and attitude without sacrificing the intricacy of musicianship. It’s a hell of a time to be alive.