Protomartyr - Formal Growth in the Desert (2023), 4/10

While I respect the musicianship and change in direction, I prefer Protomartyr’s former garage punk sound as opposed to the newfound doom and gothic rock sensibilities. This album is good and enjoyable enough, but records like Under Color of Official Right or Relatives in Descent play to the band’s strengths as a raw, noisy, existential yet sonically optimistic group. Joe’s vocals seem completely out of place half of the time against the surreal, dark instrumentation or just underwhelming in places. That being said, there are some great performances in the mix like Joe’s charged passion in the latter half of “Fun in Hi Skool” or the whole group’s performance on sections of “3800 Tigers” and “Polacrilex Kid”. Considering these changes, it is still a step up after Ultimate Success Today but nothing special in the context of their entire discography. To me, this album unfortunately sounds like a one-listen experience that I will not be returning to any time soon.