Special Interest: Endure review – jackhammer beats and punk catharsis

(Rough Trade)
The New Orleans band provide a release from tough times with a hardcore album inflected by funk, glam rock and disco

New Orleans punks Special Interest come at the world head on, turning up the volume on the harsh realities society’s most overlooked face until the walls vibrate and the speakers blow. Their distinctive blend of techno and hardcore has always felt physical and communal, intended for dingy warehouses and beer-soaked basements where outsiders reign. Their latest album, Endure, skews almost radio-friendly, in an attempt to find release during a period of intense grief.

Special Interest: Endure album cover
Special Interest: Endure album cover Photograph: Music PR handout

Beginning work on the album in 2020, Special Interest found themselves writing in claustrophobic conditions. From the Capitol riots to the Black Lives Matter protests and a brutally hot Louisiana summer in lockdown, emotional breaking points were amplified by the band’s inability to gather. As a result, Endure reaches towards fun. Funkadelic-inspired vocals and disco rhythms drive (Herman’s) House and the Mykki Blanco-featuring Midnight Legend, while Outkast come through in the “OK alright, OK alright” chant of Cherry Blue Intention. Elsewhere, their post-punk and 70s glam influences are pushed to extremes in the jackhammer beat of Impulse Control and sprawling power ballad LA Blues.

Throughout, vocalist Alli Logout spits out lyrics like they’re siphoning gas. “Who gets offered the American dream / To OD on fent / In a fascist regime,” they seethe on the hammering industrial track Concerning Peace. Even the most dancefloor-ready cuts are tales of Black exploitation, drug addiction and violence – as a force of oppression as well as liberation. But there are also flashes of hope. For every battle cry for dreamers, there’s a barb at the expense of toothless liberal activism; for every god-awful image, there’s a chorus of rave whistles and “Ooh”s that remind you to sweat out what you can tonight so you can go on tomorrow.


Emma Garland

The GuardianTramp

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