By this stage in post-punk’s history – one, lest we forget, whose origin is now closer to the outbreak of the Second World War than the present day – there’s a feeling that such a well-codified genre has few surprises left to spring. Chicago quartet Deeper’s third album and Sub Pop debut goes a long way to confirming those suspicions: so expertly steeped is Careful! in the standard-issue post-punk playbook of wiry (and Wire-y) guitar timbres, claustrophobic synths, yelped/nasal/muttered vocals and taut skeletal rhythm sections that the idiom feels like its leading the band, not the other way round.
That’s not to say, though, that Careful! isn’t also a terrifically moreish, ultra-listenable rendition of the form; indeed, despite the attendant and unavoidable dourness, there’s a strange comfort to be derived from hearing those tried-and-tested tropes executed with such stylistically loyal precision, like watching a perfectly directed heist movie in which knowledge of the twist is no impediment to enjoyment of the journey. From that perspective, Careful! reveals Deeper as master craftsmen, and their creations as exquisite feats of construction. In many genres, that wouldn’t be enough; in one as stringently charted as this, though, it makes Careful! a worthy addition to a long canon.