The dance-punk explosion of the 2000s was sparked at least in part by the ghosts of no wave, the heady New York City rock movement that merged punk spirit, funk moves, and noisy experimentation. But for all of the groove it embraced, it often left behind the subgenre’s most unhinged qualities. We heard fragments of these from important modern contributors—the like-I-give-a-fuck swagger of !!!, for example, and The Rapture’s hitmaking bellow in “House of Jealous Lovers.” Yet Endure, a minor-major label breakthrough for Special Interest out of New Orleans, following 2020’s The Passion Of, clearly has the weirdest post-punk elements of the 1970s and 1980s coming through a lot more, and louder, and faster.
Every part of Special Interest here feels like it bangs into the next at ill-fitting, curious angles like art-school bumper cars. Maria Elena’s guitar does parkour around and through the arrangements, while Nathan Cassiani’s bass gets strung low enough to be a tripping hazard. It’s the insistent gurgle of Ruth Mascelli’s electronic keys and drums that carry Alli Logout’s voice and with it, the day. The resulting interplay on Endure is insistent and desperate, proclaimed in “Kurdish Radio” and “Cherry Blue Intention” with the kind of politicized chants and rebel yells made by Poly Styrene, Kathleen Hanna, and Karen O in decades past.
With Rough Trade’s resources at their disposal, the band show off a deft touch with everything from fuzzy bedroom indie (“My Displeasure”) to distorted versions of vogue house and ballroom rap (“Midnight Legend,” “[Herman’s] House”). But it’s the more chaotic, industrial impulses of new wave that continue to best define Special Interest. At one point Logout leads them in screaming, “We are not concerned with peace/Peace is none of our concern,” and their motorik drum patterns and purposefully tinny production underscore the different directions that proclamation could take. Whether it’s a land border breached, revolt against the powers that be, or just resting in the discomfort in your ears (and the space between), Endure was made to be a sonically, emotionally massive soundtrack for any trip.
Label: Rough Trade
Adam Blyweiss is associate editor of Treble. A graphic designer and design teacher by trade, Adam has written about music since his 1990s college days and been published at MXDWN and e|i magazine. Based in Philadelphia, Adam has also DJ’d for terrestrial and streaming radio from WXPN and WKDU.