Though I found much to like about Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor none of it helped prevent me from being put off by the aggressive approach the band used in realizing its ambitions on the album. Far be it from me to say what should and should not constitute a punk rock song, but any punk rock song that breaches the five-minute mark is very politely asking to be pointless. And since a majority of the songs on that album range from over five minutes to just over 14 minutes, Titus Andronicus was being pretty rude about it. But seeing as that I’m trying to be a much fairer man in these otherwise sad and unfair times, I feel no urge to write them off just yet, so I’ve remedied my animosity by setting them aside for an open-ended duration and instead took up once more the work of Tyvek, a band which never ceases to disappoint in cutting the bullshit down to the most barren of bare essentials.
There’s much more to Tyvek than nervous energy, but what a nervous energy it is. Nothing Fits is composed of one blast after the next of fast and dirty chords, frantic distorted vocals, and chanted lyrics interchangeably made up of stray observations, absurd poetics and emotional exhaustion. It’s a kind of half-drunken/half-insomniac rager, the guests of which being early attack mode song structure of Wire, the rough and tumble eccentricity of The Embarrassment, the primitive aggression of Unsane and Drive Like Jehu, and hosted by a display of bravado that is pure basement punk.
Hesitation, let alone grace, is not in Tyvek’s common vocabulary. From the first second of opening track “4312” we are hit with an anxious immediacy of buzzing riffs and unhinged vocals. The song assumes a fast and tight structure that would seem over before it begins had it not been for the inclusion of a driving guitar solo near the conclusion that goes back to the economic but otherwise indulgent roots of rock primitivism. The solos on this album are something to admire in themselves, perhaps the best being heard on “Future Junk,” which doesn’t detour entirely from the rhythm of the song but is played with such ferocity by frontman Kevin Boyer that it seems that shredding apart his guitar strings is the end in itself. This, then, is the formula assumed. Each subsequent track is infused with the same urgency and oddity, yet it never tires or hints at weakness. Occasionally there are deviations, but pleasant ones; Tyvek can show mercy to the listener much in the same way that a Czar could have shown mercy to the beleaguered serfs, only Tyvek actually showed it.
One of these deviations is “Outer Limits,” the album’s longest track clocking in at less than five minutes. Tyvek slow themselves down from power surge to groove mode, sprinkling some angular guitar work amidst the steady riff churning as well as some less-but only slightly less-pained vocals. All of this is delivered in such a way so the listener does not overlook the more sophisticated lyrical workings on the song which depicts a bleak worldview of twisted morality: “A human hand sticking up/ from the frozen ground/ Christian justice looks just like revenge/ a cycle of violence/ that’ll never end.”
The album clocks in under a half-hour and sounds as if it took just as much time to record it. With a whole crop of punk and indie bands putting in pained efforts to be monumental and deep, Tyvek shows that having an utter lack of interest in such goals brings about a near-equal amount of creative vibrancy, and without ceding an ounce of intelligence in the process. Little else can be said aside from it being simply a fierce album, one very much in tune with the checkered history of Detroit’s rock underground, its Valhalla including Negative Approach and Thoughts of Ionesco. In short, the album stokes in the belly of the listener a certain fire more directly related to youth than acid reflux, which I assure you are two different feelings.