Everyone seems to be talking about just how goddamn much we need a band like Priests right now and no matter how enjoyable it is to play devil’s advocate (or should that be contrarian millennial?), you have to admit they’re right. Although the band have been knocking around for a little while, releasing a handful of claustrophobic EPs chock full of verbose attacks against the hostile and corrupt world they seem to find themselves in, since last year’s fateful election, forward-thinking, anti-establishment punk rock is exactly what is needed. Punk has always been the perfect vehicle with which to release one’s frustrations and in this messy era of late capitalism it seems as if there are new frustrations being added to the pile every day. On their latest release (their debut, in fact), it is clear that Priests are fully aware of the weight of these daily oppressions on the modern individual, and channel their own alienation and fury into the sublimely confrontational sound found within. As such, the two most frequently used labels to describe the four piece – ‘important’ and ‘essential’ – are hard to dispute.
Their sound is made up of the insistent pummelling of Daniele Daniele’s drums, the frenetic, sinister guitar work of the aptly named G. L. Jaguar and the punchy bass of Taylor Mulitz, all of which coalesce into the most viciously cathartic-sounding ensemble this side of Sheer Mag. And that’s without mentioning the acerbic vocals of Katie Greer. “New hope in the great unwashed” she declares on opener ‘Appropriate‘, both an optimistic statement regarding the direction America’s future should take and a frank expression of belief in the counter-cultural DIY scene the band inhabits. From there on in she engages with the ugly truths of the progress-oriented world of the twenty-first-century, tackling them with a mix of humour and contempt. On the dizzying ‘Pink White House‘ for example, the unjust imbalances of the democratic political system are met with distaste and disgust, sardonically dismissed as “A puppet show in which you’re made to feel like you participate” with the only options available being to “Sign a letter/Throw your shoe/Vote for numbers 1 or 2″. Standout track ‘No Big Bang‘ even calls into question the value of “all of the science and evolution and progress” by way of a rant-like spoken word diatribe.
Naturally, Priests sound just as disorienting as you can imagine, jumping from lively, polyrhythmic arrangements to danceable funk, moody indie pop and pure sonic chaos, sometimes even mid-song. This agitated style help to underscore the band’s attempt to evade commoditisation and is representative of both the feeling of modern alienation they rail against and the album title’s pithy declaration of the current state of affairs. Across the half-an-hour-or-so running time on offer here they will make you well aware that really, nothing does feel natural anymore. Fortunately however, Katie Greer’s tongue in cheek reaction to this dismal reality will keep you smiling about it the whole time.