No Passion All Technique
Urinal Cake Records · Reissued May 10, 2019 · Released October 12, 2012
Hearing this record after their most recent release shows how far the band has come.
Protomartyr, the Detroit post-punk band who has gained a lot of attention in recent years, have recently reissued their debut record, No Passion All Technique, via Domino Records. Originally released in 2012, but since rendered hard to find, this record gives context to fans to show how far the band has come but ultimately has less of a distinct personality than their later work.
Protomartyr’s last record, Relatives in Descent, was one of my favorite records of 2017. The band’s fourth album in five years seemed that the band had fully come into their own, mixing a dark, brooding post-punk sound with mystical and political lyrics. The guitar parts were more varied than they were previously, bring different layers and textures to their sound. They had, at least in my eyes, made themselves into one of a handful of bands that stand out amongst their post-punk peers this decade.
Hearing this record after their most recent release shows how far the band has come. While still a solid post-punk record, the sound is less distinct and exciting. The band wears their influences on their sleeve more so than they do now. The lyrics are less pointed and effective in their messages and imagery, establishing more of a vague atmosphere than a narrative. However, the intense energy they bring to this day, as well as hints of what was to come is still present.
Protomartyr’s frontman Joe Casey, who had no prior musical experience before starting the band in his early 30s to try to escape a job he hated, is still all over the place on this record. Yelling, barking, and mumbling his way through tracks, he has always been a captivating voice. The tracks are shorter than the ones they’d go on to write, blowing through one idea after the next with a fervor. The production is rawer which gives the band more of a classic post-punk sound, almost comparable to a band like the Minutemen. This gives them more of an edge, but less diversity in texture than they have now. Above all though the record brings what most promising rock debuts tend to have. Through the mess and struggle to find an identity there are hungry new artists eager to impress. As the years have gone on and the band has matured, we’ve found that Protomartyr is more than capable of impressing, and this record serves as a reminder of where it all started.