The Red Alert
The Red Alert



Napalm Dream

(Hang Up)

Record Review by Adam McKibbin




Wisconsin’s Tenement announce their intentions loudly and clearly. As others have noted, even their packaging is a shout-out to the good ol’ days: all collage and typewriter fonts and Rockwellian images juxtaposed with images that remind us that the past isn’t always so comforting (a smiling O.J. Simpson saying “I’m gonna fucking kill you”). The first track is called “Stupid Werld” spelled with an “e” because… well, fuck “o,” presumably. It’s a straight-ahead charge of punk-pop, a little more punk than pop, but certainly hook-oriented. A line about the “cowards in this room staring blankly at their shoes” surely gets a little extra piss and vinegar when it’s played live. By the time the second track hits its chorus, the duo sounds like an American answer to Let’s Wrestle, the good-natured punks from England who found a home with our much-beloved Merge Records.


Frills and polish obviously have no place in a Napalm Dream, but the duo’s dedication to lo-fi led to one decision that backfired a bit: interspersing three songs recorded on eight-track. The sequencing is disruptive, and, all due respect to bedrooms and basements being punker than studios, but the cleaner sound better suits the band’s peppy anthems.


Lest you think you have them pegged – and you could be forgiven for thinking so, as most of the album sticks to a fairly familiar script (just done better than most of their peers) – Tenement close things out with a dirge-y rocker bearing some J Mascis-y guitar work (“A Death in the Family”) and a fists-in-the-mosh-pit hardcore-inspired number, giving Jesse Ponkamo a turn at the mic.


At once gleeful and deeply disgruntled, Napalm Dream is an old-fashioned blast of Midwestern pop-punk; it practically put the taste of Old Style or High Life in my mouth (that’s meant as a nostalgic compliment, beer snobs). Its utter lack of contemporary trend-hopping, of course, only boosts its punk cred.



More by this writer:

Puscifer - Conditions of My Parole

Archers of Loaf - Icky Mettle [deluxe reissue]

Wild Beasts - Live - October 13, 2011

Wild Flag - Live - November 3, 2011